Army official sidesteps the central issue on disability system

Injured soldiers languish in claims processing system, but the service won’t say for how long.

The Army has made numerous improvements to the Integrated Disability Evaluation System that determines whether wounded or injured soldiers can stay on active duty or leave the service and file a claim with the Veterans Affairs Department, Lt. Gen. Howard Bromberg, deputy chief of staff for personnel said today at the annual Army conference.

But -- and this is a very big but -- Bromberg said, “we are not where we should be.” This seems to include meeting the goal to process all claims in 295 days. Bromberg ducked the processing time question. “Let’s not focus on the number of days,” he said, and instead shifted the focus to improvements in the process, including training, additional personnel and capacity increases.

To use a real Washington word, the only metric that really counts is to meet the 295 day goal. As of May, troops were stuck in the disability process for an average of 394 days, senior members of the Senate VA Committee charged at a hearing that month.

So, how many days -- today -- does it take to process a soldier through the system?