Statement from DAV Washington Executive Director Garry Augustine on passage of the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017

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For far too long, veterans have faced unnecessary and unacceptable delays within the current VA disability appeals system, on average taking between three to five years—sometimes longer—to complete. Passage of the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 into law today marks an important step forward in creating a more timely and accurate system for processing veterans’ appeals.

We believe the law enacted today will help minimize the frustration and undue burdens that veterans and their families experience when caught in a lengthy appeals process. This critical legislation will ensure that the new appeals system provides veterans with multiple options to challenge unfavorable decisions, ultimately leading to quicker and more favorable outcomes while also protecting veterans’ due process rights.

As veterans disability claims and appeals advocacy is the hallmark service provided by DAV, we have long called for meaningful reform of the appeals system as the backlog continued to grow. Since March of 2016, we have worked alongside Congress, VA, the Board of Veterans Appeals and many other stakeholders to develop and refine the legislation signed today. The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 is a testament to how vital such collaborative partnerships are in crafting reform measures that meet the needs of all parties involved—most especially the needs of disabled veterans.

DAV applauds the members of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees, leaders in the VA and our partners in the veteran community whose cooperation has allowed this law to come to fruition. We appreciate VA Secretary David Shulkin’s commitment to ensuring veterans were given a voice in the reform process, and we thank Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Johnny Isakson and Ranking Member Jon Tester, along with House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Phil Roe and Ranking Member Tim Walz for their steadfast leadership and commitment to getting this bill passed.