Senator Crapo releases highlights from Idaho Veterans Survey
Boise - Idaho veterans received nearly $1 million in benefits related to successful casework in partnering with Idaho Senator Mike Crapo's office over the past year. Crapo thanked veterans for participating in his recently-completed Idaho Veterans Survey, and said that participation was a factor regarding increased requests for casework help that benefitted veterans.
"About a thousand new requests for casework assistance came in last year, much of it from awareness created by our dialog with veterans and the veterans surveys," Crapo said. "Although many veterans described themselves as reasonably satisfied with veterans services, vets are telling us they want improvements for outside health care and increased attention to benefit services for veterans. This survey effort has helped to break down past barriers. We are taking the findings to the Veterans Administration and the result should benefit more and more Idaho veterans over time."
Crapo noted the $957,716 in veteran-related casework in his office over the past fiscal year included retrieval of past benefits, medical coverage, status updates and other out-of-pocket expenses incurred by veterans. As examples, Crapo noted one veteran who received more than $200,000 in a medical claim, and others who received overdue disability benefits and resolved home loan payment disputes. One veteran won a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) case after a wait of nearly 20 years. "This is real help that is available to every veteran from advocates and their Congressional offices and this survey has helped get out the word that these services are available," Crapo added.
The survey responses showed 52 percent of veterans as "satisfied" with service in the VA system but 27 percent describing themselves as "dissatisfied" or worse. The numbers reflect a slight improvement from last year's survey results.
Many veterans said they are not pleased with the Veterans Choice Program, an attempt to increase medical care alternatives, and said they would like other options. Nearly half the respondents, 48 percent, said they were unhappy with the VA appeal process. Crapo will discuss the findings with the VA Secretary and noted the findings will be part of the discussion as Congress continues to seek ways to improve services for veterans.
Crapo added he remains troubled over recent letters sent to veterans from both the Veterans Administration and the Social Security Administration regarding Second Amendment rights to own a firearm. He said the letters threaten veterans who have turned their financial affairs over to another individual, saying that they should surrender any guns they own or face penalties.
"These brave men and women served our country with distinction and without hesitation," Crapo said. "Now, the government is threatening them with the loss of their constitutional rights without due process. It is another example of extreme overreach and wrongheaded policies by agencies that already face many questions from veterans."
Crapo's comments came as he announced his Spirit of Freedom Awards, given annually to veterans and volunteers across Idaho. Recipients were named during ceremonies in Boise, Pocatello, Twin Falls, Lewiston, Firth, Sandpoint and Hayden/Coeur d'Alene.