They risked their lives fighting for our country. But, as veterans return home from combat, many face the daunting task of finding a job and starting over. Many vets are still coping with serious injuries and having trouble getting the care they need.
Some of our servicemen and women face multiple deployments overseas. But, some are faced with a different kind of war when they come home. "The system has been very inefficient. My original claim was in 2001. I think it was awarded in 2004. I submitted appeal in 2009, and I've heard nothing about that," said Wayne Wright, U.S. Navy Veteran.
Wright spent more than three decades underwater as a navy diver. But, all those years of deep sea diving led to severe hearing loss. He has spent the last eleven years fighting to be compensated for his condition.
Wright is just one of thousands of vets locked in a tug of war with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. "These are all men and women who put their hand up and said they would put their life up for their country and they did their service and they are entitled to it. And, then the politicians and the system isn't there for these guys and gals," said Bill Potter, U.S. Navy Veteran.
But, Dennis Kuewa is here for these men and women. He spoke with veterans, one-on-one in Bakersfield Thursday about their concerns. "We'll try to reach out to as many veterans who are in need as possible. That's why we do this," said Kuewa.
Kuewa came out of retirement a little more than a year ago to become the director of the VA regional office in Los Angeles that is bogged down with nearly 25,000 disability claims. "We're trying to cycle though those. The only way I will know where they are is to come out and meet with them," he continued.
Kuewa says it is no secret the department is in bad shape, but he is working to speed things up. "We're not going to be successful or more timely if we continue to make mistakes. I'm counting on our improved accuracy to leverage better timeliness," he noted.
Speedier service will help veterans like Wayne Wright. "He's admitting fault and we need to hear that. It's not a perfect society. No society is perfect, but at least he's going to try," he explained.