Investigates: Thousands of area vets stuck in disability limbo with VA

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by Chris Nagus / News 4 Investigates

KMOV.com

Posted on November 18, 2013 at 10:47 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 19 at 1:14 PM

 (KMOV) – Lee Kedge is one of the 700,000 veterans stuck in disability limbo with the Veterans Administration.

There’s a place they sent my appeal off to called the black hole, it's ridiculous,” said James Carver.  

Ashley Buska, suffered a stroke while serving at Fort Bliss in Texas when she was 21.

“I got a letter saying it's taking a long time because it's taking a long backlog,” said Buska. “Before I joined the military, I was perfectly healthy, nothing wrong.”

She tried filing what’s called a Quick Start Claim through the VA but there’s been nothing quick about it. Nearly four years, a bunch of clerical errors and no answers later, she’s still waiting to find out about her claim.

The problem is no secret to lawmakers. In August, a bunch of U.S. Senators including Senator Blunt and McCaskill, sent letters to President Obama asking to improve the claims process.  That process averages 474 days for St. Louis area vets, almost a year and a half and for some, much longer.

Kedge served in Desert Storm and worked at a POW camp in Audi Arabia for six months. He claims post-traumatic stress disorder. His mind drifts back to a dark place when he is having a conversation.

In Iraq, Carver nearly died after his truck was hit by an IED, causing an explosion.

“One guy lost his leg from the knee down. Sorry it’s little rough to talk about that part,” said Carver.

He lost his hearing and developed PTSD, a claim the VA approved. But his claim involving nerve damage is still in limbo.

He’s been fighting that since he left the military in 2008.

“I’ve been seeing doctors at Washington University saying I have moderate to severe nerve damage,” said Carver.

So besides sending letters to the President, what are lawmakers actually doing?

Congresswoman Ann Wagner said, “It is absolutely outrageous, something we will be working very hard to end those long lines.” Her son serves in the military.

News 4’s Chris Nagus is reaching out to the lawmakers who represent the vets to get answers on their behalf.

Click here if you would like to find out how to contact your congressman or senator.

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