Soon thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans will return home, many of them to Virginia, with medical injuries and job placement needs. The Virginia Board of Veterans Services is asking the Governor to help beef up staffing and funding to accommodate the new requests.
Within the past five years alone, the number of claims filed with the veterans board has increased by 42 percent. This has the potential to cripple an agency already bogged down with requests for assistance from vets of wars past.
And although the cost to add more claim agents to serve returning vets will increase significantly, Board of Veterans Services Chairman Thad Jones says to achieve the title of the most veteran-friendly state, Virginia must answer the calls of those service men and women who call it home.
"Right now the code is we have to have one claim agent for every 26,000 veterans living in Virginia," Jones says. "And because of the workload, you know, the troops coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq -- that's a heavy workload."
The low number of staff members makes for a very lengthy wait time before veterans receive help. Board members also say the state's two veterans care centers need to increase staff and financial resources.