Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 2, 2014

Did Jon Stewart Inspire Democratic Veterans Bill?

Does a late-night comedy show affect Washington policymakers?

As much as Jon Stewart might lampoon us for saying so, it looks like the answer could be “yes.”

Earlier this month, Stewart’s “The Daily Show” ran a satirical exposé on a serious issue: the backlog of veterans affairs benefits claims that currently are not being processed by the government. On Thursday, a group of Democratic senators introduced legislation to help fund legal clinics at law schools doing pro-bono work on behalf of veterans.

Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Christopher S. Murphy, D-Conn., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., announced the Veterans Legal Support Act of 2013 to authorize the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide financial support to either public or private law schools that have established programs to assist veterans attempting to file claims with the government.


“We have a responsibility to take care of our veterans and the VA isn’t currently doing enough. The claims backlog is unacceptable and we still have too many veterans out on the streets,” Shaheen said in a statement. “Some of our nation’s law schools are greatly reducing processing times for the most difficult benefits claims and expanding access to legal services, both of which are key to preventing homelessness. Our bill would authorize the VA to work more closely with these programs and lower barriers for additional schools to develop their own. Our goal is to have a veterans legal clinic in each state.”

You can read the bill text, obtained by WGDB, here.

Don’t believe us that “The Daily Show” made the situation look pretty bad? You can watch its two-part series, “Zero Dark 900,000″ here and here.

  • WindsurfMaui

    I’m not sure what the problem is in processing Veteran’s benefit claims. We say they are great people when we send them off to war but once they ask for some medical benefit we treat them like cheaters, mouchers and suspects of fraud. How can this be? My solution is that all claims filed should be immediately accepted as true and benefits started immediately on receipt of claim. Then the processing office can do spot checks for any fraud, etc they suspect. If they find a case of fraud or misapplication they can immediately cut off that claiment and the claiment can put in for a hearing if they believe they were cut off in error. All hearings must be held in 120 days or the claiment should be restored immediately to their coverage until a hearing is held. Let’s err on the side of the soldiers and sailors.. Any benefits given up to the point of suspension should be written off and not look for repayment from the veteran. If there is a claim from someone who did not serve they should be prosecutted but any veteran who gets medical services even if later found not deserved should just be forgiven for service.
    Yes this would add an expence to the amount we give to veterans but part of it would be offset by less paper work processing. And even if the excess of medical benefits runs a couple of billion dollars it is a small price considering a 700 billion dollar defense budget. And again these are our brave soldiers and sailors who we send off to do the most dangerous tasks a country can ask of it’s citizens. certainly this is a small price to pay for such a sacrifice.

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