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Resource ID: #26436
Subject: Veterans
Source: Baltimore Sun
Affiliation: 
Date: January 27, 2013

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Description

Yvonne Wenger's story for The Baltimore Sun examined the disability claims backlog at the Baltimore office of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Through her reporting and use of an online database, she discovered that the Baltimore office, which services all of Maryland, had the worst backlog in the country and made the most mistakes. Servicemen and women in Maryland were waiting an average of 12 months for an initial decision about benefits; in some cases, it could take years more to receive the payments. Yvonne reached out to dozens of veterans but found that all were fearful to speak to a reporter because they thought doing so would affect their claims. She eventually did find a combat veteran, Robert Fearing, who was willing to be interviewed. He was suffering from paranoia and anxiety and had been waiting 2 ½ years for the Baltimore office to make a decision about his claim. After publication of the article, reaction from Maryland's congressional delegation was swift. Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin both took action to seek changes locally and nationally to address the backlog. And just days after the article was published, Fearing had his claim reviewed and approved.

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