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Opening Statement of Hon. John T. Salazar, a Representative in Congress from the State of Colorado

Thank you Mr. Chairman and thank you Mr. Scott for both your military service and for your service as Chairman of this commission.

As the members of this committee are aware, legislation relating to veterans or veterans benefits have been introduced more often in this Congress than any other. 

While preparing for this hearing I searched the L-I-S website just to get an idea of just how many that might be.

I found five hundred and fifty five bills that made some sort of reference to veterans.

What this says to me is this Congress, and those before it are committed to finding ways to properly care for those who served and the families that support them.

Yet we have all seen the problems that are facing our veterans, old and young—in the case work that our congressional office undertake.

The issue that I would like to bring up, in part deals with back logs, but on a larger scale with just how much can truly be accomplished by vets when they try to navigate the process alone.

I hear stories every week from vets that have disability claims open for months, or even years that seem to go nowhere. 

Then when they call my office, often as a last ditch effort, and we intercede, miraculously a lost file is found, or things start to move.

Did the commission examine the success rates of those cases handled by the veteran themselves vs. those assisted by a Congressional office?

And if so what recommendations specifically can be made to both simplify and expedite the claims process?