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Kaine, Shinseki Meet To Discuss Veterans Claims Backlog & Troop Talent Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Armed Services Committee, today met with Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) Eric Shinseki to discuss significant issues facing veterans today including the disability claims backlog, education, health care access, and unemployment. 

“Today I had the opportunity to meet with Secretary Shinseki on critical issues facing our veterans and the VA including the disability claims backlog and the tragic rate of veteran suicides. Veterans must have timely access to quality health care without delay and I will continue to monitor progress as the VA makes improvements,” said Kaine following the meeting. “The Secretary and I also had a good dialogue on the high unemployment rate for returning veterans and discussed some of the strategies included in my first bill, the Troop Talent Act, to connect those who have served our nation with good jobs that match their training. The skills our servicemembers receive are invaluable to our economy and we need to do more to pair veterans with the credentials the private sector can understand.”

Kaine’s Troop Talent Act of 2013 will help ease the transition of servicemembers from active duty to the civilian workforce by improving the alignment of specialty skills acquired in the military with civilian credentials or licenses required for post-service employment, expanding existing efforts to meet current workforce demands and match the skills of servicemembers with growth industries, and implementing rigorous standards to ensure credentials translate into the private sector.

In April, following the Senate Budget hearing, Kaine questioned Secretary Shinseki on the issue of backlogged requests to the VA, including serious delays in mental health care treatment Virginia veterans have experienced due to an oversight in a website application form process. In addition, Kaine joined dozens of other Senators on a letter to the President calling to reduce the VA Claims backlog.  Kaine was encouraged today to hear first-hand from Secretary Shinseki about the VA’s technological and process improvements and the significant news that 97 percent of all claims over two years old have been eliminated from the backlog.  Since taking office, Kaine has had many opportunities to connect with veterans across the Commonwealth, including roundtables to discuss the Troop Talent Act, Memorial Day Events, and a tour of the Salem VA Medical Center.