All the news reports I have seen completely omit what medical conditions and who the VA is required to treat. The Veterans Administration was created to treat veterans’ service-related injuries and illnesses only. The VA has never been required to give free healthcare to every man or woman who served in the military. The VA does treat non-service related condition, but only on a space available basis.
The media, to my knowledge, has never tried to distinguish how much of the apparent backlog is for conditions that have already or will be found ineligible; especially for conditions that cannot be identified by standard healthcare testing. There have been many claims for combat injuries, when the applicants’ service records indicate they never performed combat duties. I have read of claims for combat injuries for men and women who never even served overseas in countries where we conducted combat operations.
Also many of the claims handled by the VA are not for medical treatment. They are appeals for disability pay. Most such claims have already been denied because the claimant could not show how, when and where they received an eligible injury. Most people picture a serviceman with missing body parts or, after a long hospitalization, being denied compensation or healthcare by the VA. This is just not true.
I have no doubt most VA claims are legitimate. But we must recognize that many claims are attempt to receive tax free income and healthcare for life, for non-existent or non-service related conditions. During my 23 years in the military, I saw many such attempts, usually in the last months before discharge or retirement.
Besides ineligible claims, the VA is terribly underfunded to satisfy legitimate claims. We sent about three million men and women to Iraq and Afghanistan with no thought of how to pay for their lifelong injuries. In 2004, members of Congress asked the Bush administration why they had not asked for greater VA fundin. They were told the VA didn’t need any additional funds. That’s after the Bush administration told us the war would be paid for with Iraqi oil. Well, they came up about a trillion dollars short.