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Sen. Mitch McConnell: VA disability claim backlog is 'national disgrace'

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that the backlog of disability claims filed with the Department of Veterans Affairs is “totally unacceptable” and called on President Obama to follow through on his previous promises to tackle the issue.

Speaking at the 114th Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention, the Kentucky Republican said that the size of the problem is a “national disgrace” — pointing out that the backlog of claims has doubled since 2009, and now more than 750,000 veterans nationwide are stuck in the line.

“For this reason, I personally advocated and continue to advocate the president himself to take direct action and involvement to end the VA backlog,” Mr. McConnell said. “An issue this important demands attention from the very top. Veterans ought to be able to count on their government, and they ought to be able to count on their commander-in-chief.”

Mr. McConnell is up for re-election in 2014. Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes announced she was challenging the Republican.

Sen. Bob Casey, Pennsylvania Democrat, and Sen. Dean Keller, Nevada Republican, recently announced they will launch a VA Backlog Working Group and said they plan to submit a report on how to alleviate the problem in the fall.

The waiting list has increased despite more money being funneled into the department. In addition to veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, there are more than 200,000 claims filed by Vietnam vets seeking disability stemming from the spraying of the toxic defoliant Agent Orange.

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