To explore "The Wait We Carry," a new data-visualization project from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), is to confront bureaucratic failure writ large. Scroll through the graph charting more than 1,700 veterans; see their names, ages, the lengths of their deployments; and then see, highlighted in burnt orange, just how many days they've been waiting to receive there benefits -- an average of 558 days.
The backlog for veterans' benefits claims is a mounting, slow-moving tragedy.Some 600,000 claims are "backlogged," meaning they've sat around waiting, unanswered, literally in a pile somewhere, for more than 125 days. A statement provided to the New York Times in May said that Eric Shinseki, the secretary of veteran's affairs, "is confident that we will end the backlog in 2015." To whichThe Daily Show's Jon Stewart replied: "In only two more years, they are hoping to have you wait only four more months."
"The Wait We Carry," which was funded by the Knight Foundation, is designed to communicate both the enormity of the problem and what the delay means in more human terms, by sharing the stories of individual veterans. For many of the veterans, visitors to the site can actually click on the words "I want to connect with this vet about his experience" and get in touch to learn more about his or her situation, send words of comfort and support, and perhaps even help.