Indiana veteran in long wait to receive benefits from the VA

Some veterans wait years for their claims to be approved by Veterans Affairs. (WTHR photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - Long delays are common at Veterans Affairs offices across Indiana and across the country.

Vince Morford knows that all too well.

"After maybe 30 minutes, I'm ready to sit down 'cause my feet are killing me," said the 65-year-old Morford, who lives with chronic foot and back pain. "I can't walk for a long time, can't sit for a long time."

He said doctors have told him his pain is a result of his service in the United States Army.

"There was no arch support in my boots and we were marching 30, probably 40 miles a day on our feet," said Morford.

Bills from physical therapy have added up over the years.

"I built up about $12,000 in debt," said Morford,

For more than a decade, Morford has been trying to get the Veterans Administration to compensate him monthly to help defer the costs of care.

"It's just been one nightmare after another," he said.

Morford says he's waited 12 years for the VA to make a decision about his claim.

"They just kept saying there was a lot to it. I needed to be patient," he explained.

Turns out, Morford is not alone.

"We have veterans whose claims have been pending 7, 9, 10 years or more. We have had veterans pass away waiting for their federal government to give them what they are due from their country," said Senator Todd Young (R-Indiana).

Friday, Young met with folks at the Veterans Administration's regional office in Indianapolis concerning 17 cases, including Morford's, that have been stuck in a long-term appeals process.

"It's a screwed up legacy computer system which I've recently had the opportunity to vote on giving them a new system which they are in the process of implementing," Young explained, adding that the Veterans Appeals Modernization Act will update the VA's computer systems.

Young said the system should be fully implemented by the end of the 2020 fiscal year.

"There are some good people over there. I do want to acknowledge that. I want to support them so they can better serve," said Young.

For Vince Morford, who has already served his country, the fight for benefits has been exhausting.

He's glad for any help with his case.

"I've fought harder trying to get benefits from being a veteran than I obviously did when I was in," said Morford.

Filed under: