Updated: 12/09/2013 10:52 PM
Created: 12/09/2013 10:48 PM KSTP.com
By: Steph Crock
(ABC 6 News) -- Minnesota veterans are seeing a backlog in benefit claims, but the Regional VA in Saint Paul is one of the best in the nation at getting through them, so we looked into how they've gotten so far behind despite being ahead of the rest of the country.
"I just retired from the Army in February of this year and I had a claim in with the VA about 3 years ago, and I've been waiting on the claim, and I just got a letter this September saying that they received my claim and are working on it," said Army Veteran Scott Metcalf.
Three letters Scott Metcalf has gotten from the VA, but is still waiting to get a claim. "I didn't expect it to take that long, but Minnesota is one of the top in the nation as far as claims go. We are well above 70%, so those other states that are below us, I feel sorry for those people," said Metcalf.
So, if the VA in St. Paul is doing well compared to other regional offices, what's the hold up? "Poorly performing regional offices such as Chicago, Phoenix, and some of the other regional offices down south," said Olmsted County Veteran Service Officer Nathan Pike. He says there's only so much they can do at the county level. "If we can present a fully developed claim, the VA up in St. Paul is more likely to grab that claim, stick it in their fast lane, and get it rated and decided," he said.
Though, Pike admits it's frustrating to see local veterans taking the hit for something completely out of our area. "Right now what we've seen is Minnesota veterans are taking the back seat to other veterans," said Pike.
"We are family here in Minnesota and if there's a veteran that's hurting, we should all try and help that veteran," said Metcalf.
On a positive note, the VA just recently added a dental program for veterans who are enrolled in the VA. See your county veteran service officer for details.