US Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki was in New Hampshire Tuesday to visit the site of the new Veterans Center in Hooksett. The new center, which will be completed in August, is part of an effort by the VA to help Vets gain better access to medical care and mental health counseling. Shinseki also discussed the new mobile Vet Center--a van which will help Vets in rural New Hampshire and Vermont get connected to medical care through telemedicine and referrals as well as provide mental health counseling on site.
Shinseki says a major problem for the VA is the huge backlog of benefit claims. Currently in New Hampshire Vets wait more than 6 months to get their claims processed.
"We have had electronic health records in healthcare," says Shinseki, " Probably the best electronic health records in the nation." BUT he says "We're paper for benefits."
The VA is now launching a new program to get all benefit claims into a electronic system. Shinseki expects that by 2015 when the system is fully operational, waits for claims will no longer be a problem.