CNN — Anderson Cooper 360

“Hundreds of thousands of war vets still waiting for health benefits”

Mike Rioux waited 18 months to have his disability benefits claim processed after returning from the war in Afghanistan. As Randy Kaye of CNN reports, when the decision was finally reached, Rioux was told he qualified for a monthly payment of under $700 and was only 40 percent disabled. The Department of Veterans Affairs did not provide compensation for his traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder, both acquired during his military service. His PTSD diagnosis was even given by a VA doctor.

According to CNN, Rioux and his family are not alone in fighting with the VA to obtain monetary benefits, and the economic struggles are taking their toll.

  • Most of the difficulty with making decisions and evaluating claims appears to be the result of “severe and complex mental injuries” like traumatic brain injuries and PTSD.
  • The report compared these injuries to Agent Orange and Gulf War syndrome, meaning that the VA is trying to determine the right benefit amount for those affected by things like PTSD. Because terms used to describe these conditions are relatively new, it can be hard to compare these more “hidden disabilities” to those with obvious physical manifestations.
  • Officials with the VA are expecting to process approximately one million applications from veterans by the end of 2012, and they say the goal is to process incoming applications within 125 days, according to CNN.