WICHITA, Kan.- It was a familiar theme at Friday's VA Benefits town hall meeting in Wichita. Veterans spoke openly and emotionally about their experiences with delays in benefits and the appeals process.
"I went and got a military representative and filed a claim against the V-A. I have yet to hear from them," says one veteran.
Another veteran says he's been waiting four years on claims and appeals, just to get treatment for exposure to agent orange.
"What if I told you I filed a claim, January 4th, 2010?", he asked. "It took you guys twelve months to tell me, no."
The veteran, who was not identified, says it took another twelve months to hear that his appeal had been denied. He filed another appeal and was told his hearing had been scheduled for the year 2015. He says that appeals hearing was only bumped up after he contacted Senator Pat Roberts, to intervene. However, the hearing is again on hold, after he received another letter informing him of a delay.
Mitzi Marsh, Director of Benefits for Wichita's VA regional office, was on hand to answer veterans' questions.
"The board of Veterans Appeals is not part of the Benefits administration," Marsh says. "They are their own entity. So I can't speak on behalf of the Boards of Veterans appeals."
Marsh says the VA is working on improving its appeals response time, and that the appeals process is very different from the claims process.
But many veterans here today, weren't buying it.
"I don't know if this is a feel-good or whatever," a veteran said, during the meeting. "You tout your statistics. For people like yourself, your statistics mean absolutely nothing."
A town hall meeting specifically focusing on VA medical treatment is set for next month in Wichita.