Interactive Tool Shows the Reality of Vets Waiting for Disability Claim Decisions

An innovative data visualization tool offers a new perspective on the situation of backlogged veterans’ disability claims. Created by the Knight Foundation and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, this is just one way to demonstrate what vets are going through.

This interactive storytelling platform called “The Wait We Carry,” allows users to input how much time they believe vets should have to wait to get a decision on a disability claim. From there it provides a clear picture of their reality based on the stories of more than 1,800 veterans as of June 12, 2013.

Veteran’s Administration’s (VA) goal has always been to process claims within 125 days. Yet the reality is that on average, the vets included in the data on the site wait 567 days.

It also provides a breakdown of operation deployments – Operation Enduring Freedom (2001-13), Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003-10), and Operation New Dawn (2010-11).

When comparing the types of injuries among those surveyed for this tool, 66 percent were experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder. The second highest injury was a bad back (56 percent), followed by mental health (53 percent) and hearing loss (48 percent).

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been a spotlighted issue for returning vets. According to a report by the Congressional Research Service, as of December 7, 2012, there have been 103,792 deployed military members diagnosed with PTSD. An additional 27,549 who were not deployed have also been diagnosed.

Although not mentioned in the aforementioned tool, traumatic brain injury (TBI) is another common one. As of August 20, 2012, the majority of those who sustained a TBI since 2000 suffered a mild case (77 percent). But another 17 percent were moderate and two percent severe or penetrating.

When injuries such as these lead to disability, benefits may be available. For help filing a claim, contact an attorney at the Law Offices of Veterans Help Group