Integrated Disability Evaluation System Still a Clunker

The joint Defense/VA Integrated Disability Evaluation System, under development since 2007, is supposed to expedite the process to determine whether troops remain on active duty or, if they are discharged, what their benefits will be.

But this supposedly new and improved system cannot speedily handle the most obvious of cases, as Crystal Nicely, whose Marine husband Todd lost both arms and legs in Afghanistan in 2010 told a hearing of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee this Tuesday.

Nicely said that while IDES "is supposed to be a faster, more efficient way to complete the evaluations and transition service members, that has not been our experience." For example, Nicely said, "a very simple narrative summary of how my husband was injured sat on someone's desk for almost 70 days waiting for a very simple approval."

She said the system started to work only after the intervention of Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.

Since 43,000 troops have been wounded over the past decade in Afghanistan and Iraq, Murray will be mighty busy if she has to intervene in the thousands of cases still stuck in IDES.