The new staffers will help handle the massive backlog of claims at the Montgomery regional office. Glen E. Struchtemeyer, director of the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System, told veterans last month that Montgomery has one of the largest backlogs of claims nationwide. His staff has a backlog of compensation and pension exams that support the regional office and they've asked for help from other VA offices statewide to lighten the load.
“The jobs created under the Recovery Act are a real boost to Alabama's economy,” VA Regional Office Director Ricardo Randle said in a release. “These new employees are a great resource to our office, and the assistance they provide allows us to better serve Alabama's veterans and their dependents.”
The new hires are involved in administrative work supporting the professional adjudicators who make compensation, pension or education decisions, or process changes in veterans’ benefits. VA expects the additional staffing will help to deliver veterans their benefits as quickly as possible.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided $150 million for the program to hire and train the new staffers. Nationally, VA has put 2,300 people to work in benefits offices including 500 new staff members hired as permanent employees.
While Recovery Act funding for the term employees will expire in September 2010, the 2011 president's budget includes funds to retain or replace these employees on a permanent basis and to hire more than 2,000 additional new processors.
In addition to bolstering the benefits office staffing, the law is funding more than $1 billion of improvements at VA medical centers and national cemeteries around the country.