Sinema: VA must improve disability compensation for veterans
WASHINGTON – Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema shared the story of an Arizona Vietnam veteran who struggled for 10 years to get compensation for disabilities connected to his military service.
“The men and women who serve this country do so with an understanding that we will take care of them in return. Our priority must be about fulfilling our promise to care for them,” said Sinema, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
The VA disability compensation program pays disability benefits to veterans for illnesses, diseases, or injuries that are connected to their service. Presumptive conditions are disabilities recognized by the VA to have been caused by military service due to the unique circumstances of that service. Veterans are assigned a disability rating based in part on the VA’s listed presumptive illnesses, diseases, or injuries that rates the severity of their disability.
Today’s hearing is the result of concerns over delays in the decision-making process by VA in considering the addition of presumptive conditions in the disability compensation process. This includes postponing consideration of recommendations from a Congressionally mandated review of health problems linked to Agent Orange and other herbicides used during the Vietnam War. Sinema’s Arizona casework team assists a number of Vietnam veterans who frequently have claims to Agent Orange presumptive conditions.
Earlier this summer, the bipartisan Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act supported by Sinema was signed into law. This bipartisan legislation provides Blue Water Vietnam veterans access to all of the benefits they have earned, including medical assistance related to Agent Orange exposure.