Officials Tackling Backlog At VA

Dave Sutor | The Tribune-Democrat | May 31, 2013

JOHNSTOWN — Tim Susengill calls it his “in-the-cracks letter.”

He sends it to the Department of Veterans Affairs whenever a local veteran spends more than a year waiting for a response to a medical claim.

In the not too distant past, Susengill, a Vietnam Veterans of America Service Office representative in Blair County, wrote about one a month.

He now finds himself needing to mail two or three per week. Susengill said writing the letters, for veterans who have fallen into the cracks of the system, has been a “fairly successful” approach toward dealing with delayed claims in his organization’s 14-county region that includes Bedford, Somerset, Cambria and Indiana counties, a territory covered by the James E. Van Zandt VA Medical Center in Altoona.

But, still, a major problem exists.