All U.S. troops will undergo “more detailed” physicals as they leave
the service to make it easier for the Department of Veterans Affairs to process
future requests for such payments, the Pentagon’s top official said.
The Defense Department currently does exams on all personnel leaving the
military, and more rigorous exams for those it knows will file immediate
claims. It’s now expanding the stricter requirement to all troops to help the
VA speed up it processing of claims.
The move is designed to help the VA process future claims from new
veterans who may not file for years. When they do, the agency will have access
to more thorough medical information, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said
“It helps expedite the process, so that we don’t have to go far back
into their past to try to determine whether that claim is valid or not,”
Panetta said. “This will help ensure if a service member wants to file a claim
in the future, the VA will have the information at its fingertips.”
Panetta spoke at the VA’s headquarters in Washington after a meeting with
VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.
U.S. lawmakers have criticized VA officials for the backlog of almost
900,000 disability and pension claims, about two-thirds of which are taking
longer to process than the agency’s 125-day target.
The VA uses military health records to determine veterans’ eligibility for
benefits payments tied to service injuries.