WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a meeting today with U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Eric Shinseki, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) will continue to call for Dayton to be selected as the home to the Veterans Affairs Health Administration (VHA) Archives. Brown will also press Sec. Shinseki to cut down on the VA claims backlog that has delayed veterans’ benefits and compensation claims for Ohioans.
“The Miami Valley’s proud military tradition would make it a fitting home to the VHA Archives,” Brown said. “This facility would promote economic development and solidify Ohio as as the nation's leader in veteran's medical care and expertise.
“But we also must work to ensure that Ohio’s nearly one million veterans receive the benefits they’ve earned and deserve,” Brown continued. “It’s unconscionable to think that veterans who have sacrificed so much for our country are forced to wait six months or a year for medical care or disability payments. Our state’s veterans must be compensated fairly and equally, and they must receive the care they need when they need it.”
Currently, the VA archives are kept in multiple locations. When the VHA decided to consolidate its archives into one central location, Dayton was immediately considered as a potential home. If Dayton is chosen, the facility would be open to the public and would be the central location for all records, photos and information gathered by the VHA over the years. It would be housed in two buildings. This complex would bring jobs to the Miami Valley and solidify its reputation as a region with a high-concentration of military and veteran's expertise and knowledge.
There are nearly one million veterans across the nation with benefit claims before the VA. More than 500,000 of these claims have been pending for more than four months.
Among the 50 states, Ohio is consistently ranked at the bottom when it comes to veterans’ disability compensation payments. In its 2006 annual report, the Veterans Benefit Administration ranked Ohio 49th in the nation with average yearly payments of only $8,090. More than one third of the variance in compensation between the states can be attributed to disparities in agency standards and inadequate training within the VA. In April 2011, Brown pressed Brigadier General (Ret.) Allison Hickey, VA Undersecretary of Benefits for solutions to Ohio’s persistently low benefits ranking for veterans.
To address this problem and ensure that Ohio veterans are receiving fair compensation, Brown introduced the Veterans Disability Fairness Act. This legislation, signed into law in October 2008, requires the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to conduct reviews and audits to identify and correct any inaccuracies in disability ratings and compensation claims by VA regional offices.