On Your Side: New legislation in the works to help veterans - Gulf War Fallout, Part 2

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Updated: 3/06/2014 3:57 pm
RENO, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) -- In February, an On Your Side investigation brought you Part Two of Gulf War Fallout, as we followed the progress of two Marine veterans, and their struggle with Veteran's Affairs. Their struggle is over a cancer diagnosis the men claim was due to exposure to depleted uranium.

The story got the attention of Senators Dean Heller and Harry Reid, who vowed to help. On Wednesday, there were new developments regarding the VA, and a new bill Senator Heller is expected to introduce.

Senator Heller became very outspoken regarding the disability claim after he learned the Reno Veteran's Affairs office lost the rebuttal paperwork for Matthew Parker after he was denied by for disability.

"It's unacceptable, frankly, unacceptable," said Heller. "But there's a lot of things unacceptable today that we're trying to improve, we're trying help streamline. I sit on the Veteran's Committee, I talk about it every day I'm back in D.C., but in this particular case, it's unacceptable also."

Since the story aired, more news has come out regarding the Reno Veteran's Affairs office.  The Reno Gazette-Journal reported the Reno VA ranks the worst in the country in the length of time veteran's claims are processed, as well as the backlog of claims.

Nick McCormick is the Legislative Liaison with Iraq and Afghanistan Veteran's of America. He said the VA's goal of zero backlog cases in 2015 is getting more difficult to believe, despite the increase in funding to the VA for the past three years.

"One of the overarching themes in this back log issue has been accountability," said McCormick. "Not just in Reno, but other offices as well, where the performance numbers are not so great. We just haven't seen a lot of new leadership at these offices."

McCormick told us that Senator Heller is expected to introduce a new bill on Thursday, containing two measures specifically to improve the backlog, something he's been trying to do for the past year. McCormick said Heller plans to hold a press conference at 2 p.m. Eastern in Washington D.C. to discuss a new report which details the current backlog of veteran's claims.

Veteran's Affairs has still not responded, regarding the loss of Matthew Parker's file.
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