Congressman Kevin Cramer

Representing North Dakota, At Large
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Cramer: House Votes for Backlog Task Force at Department of Veterans Affairs

Oct 28, 2013
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today Congressman Kevin Cramer announced key improvements to veterans’ services passed the United States House of Representatives including the establishment of a backlog reduction task force at the Department of Veterans Affairs to immediately deal with delays in disability claim processing.

H.R. 2189 creates an independent task force charged with analyzing potential improvements to the disability claims process and submitting a report outlining potential solutions to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Further, it requires the Secretary to implement the solutions in the report or explain to Congress any lack of implementation.

“I have said many times the backlog is simply unacceptable, and I hope the Senate will unite with us on this front to demand a prompt solution. There can be no justification for the kind of delays our veterans are facing when they simply need our help,” said Congressman Cramer.

In June Congressman Cramer formed his Veterans Advisory Board, a group of North Dakota veterans organization leaders who provide guidance on important issues for retired service members.

“It is assuring to see Congress turning its attention to the backlog. Fixing this problem is absolutely essential for our veterans and their families” said Brenda Bergsrud, Women and Minority Veterans Coordinator and Benefits Specialist with the North Dakota Department of Veteran Affairs, and a member of Cramer’s Veterans Advisory Board.

Three other improvements to veterans’ services supported by Cramer passed the House today. H.R. 1405 mandates the inclusion of an appeals form to any claimant for a benefit denial issued by the VA, and allows state and local agencies to better assist veterans by permitting secure access to case-tracking information.

The Vulnerable Veterans Housing Reform Act of 2013 reforms the housing assistance program for disabled veterans by improving the calculation of utility subsidies and prevents the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) from counting a veteran benefit as income when calculating eligibility for housing assistance.

The Veterans Economic Opportunity Act of 2013 establishes the Veterans Economic Opportunity Administration, responsible for advancing economic opportunity for Veterans through vocational rehabilitation and employment programs, educational assistance programs, Veterans’ housing loan programs, and the Veterans Small Business Program.