March 18, 2014
COLUMBUS—State Representative Terry Johnson (R-McDermott) has announced that the Senate has concurred in two resolutions he sponsored. House Concurrent Resolution 21, joint sponsored by Representative Johnson and Speaker William G. Batchelder (R-Medina), urges the President, Department of Veterans Services, and Congress to take prompt action to reduce the processing time for veterans’ disability claims.
“For veterans who are in need of care, having to wait a year or more before receiving necessary treatment drastically hinders their ability to live happy, normal lives and prevents some from having jobs,” said Johnson. “A better solution is needed. We need a system that encourages veterans to make claims—not deter them. Quite frankly, this is unacceptable.”
Nationwide over the past year, average time for a decision on a veteran’s disability claim increased from 2 months to more than 260 days. As of April 13 of 2013, there were 852,000 claims awaiting a decision—69 percent of which had been waiting more than 125 days. The Department of Veterans Affairs also added some conditions presumed to be caused by Agent Orange during Vietnam, which reopened 260,000 previously closed cases which added to the backlog. From January 2009 to December 2012, the number of vets waiting more than a year increased 2,000 percent.
The other resolution (HCR 24) passed by the Senate and sponsored by Johnson urges the Department of Defense to do everything they can to rescue Sergeant Beau Bergdahl, the United States’ only current prisoner of war. Bergdahl, originally from Idaho, was serving in the mountainous Paktika Province in the southeastern region of Afghanistan when he was taken captive on June 30, 2009 by members of the Haqqani network, a militant group allied with the Taliban. Since his capture, the Taliban has released multiple propaganda videos of Sergeant Bergdahl in captivity.
“A lot of people don’t even know we have a POW right now,” said Johnson. “I sponsored this resolution to raise awareness and to show his family that he is not forgotten—that we in Ohio are with them. We need to do everything we can to get this young man home to his family.”
Bergdahl is assigned to the 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, based at Fort Richardson, Alaska.