As the echoes of Veterans Day celebrations linger in our hearts and minds, it is essential to recognize that the significance of this day extends beyond the parades and expressions of gratitude. It is important to remember that when it comes to addressing the challenges faced by veterans in the Hawkeye State, their service matters. One truth is clear in the complex arena of policies and bureaucracy: Iowa’s 162,000 veterans deserve unparalleled support and service.
As Congress evaluates legislative initiatives to help Iowa veterans more effectively secure the VA disability benefits they have earned, like the GUARD VA Benefits Act as well as the more comprehensive PLUS for Veterans Act of 2023, it is essential to navigate this discourse with clarity, foresight, and balance.
Veterans Services Organizations (VSOs) are pillars of the veteran community, providing invaluable support and guidance for our men and women of uniform as they return to civilian life. However, as primarily volunteer organizations, VSOs may not be able to accommodate the mounting number of disability claims. In Iowa, for example, 40% of accredited VSO representatives don’t even have a phone number listed on the VA website leaving approximately 1 reachable VSO Service Officer for every 1,400 veterans in the state. With over 300,000 VA claims currently considered backlogged nationwide, it’s clear that the disability benefits claims system requires a complete overhaul, with crucial backing from the private sector.