By Jim Steinberg, San Bernardino Sun
Posted: 08/14/13, 8:23 PM PDT |

FONTANA >> Claims backlogs, insensitivity, disrespect were among the complaints veterans brought to U.S. Rep. Gloria Negrete McLeod during a Wednesday field hearing, which drew about 200 people.

The meeting in City Hall Council Chambers followed by just five days President Barack Obama’s speech in Orlando in which he said “we are turning the tide” in backlog of unprocessed veterans claims.

Last month Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, called the nationwide backlog of hundreds of thousands of pending benefit claims a “national disgrace.”

In welcoming Negrete McLeod’s field hearing, Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren, called veterans’ needs “one of the challenges facing the United States.”

The VA’s Los Angeles regional office has more than 14,000 claims pending that will take an average of 616 days to complete each claim — almost twice the national average.

But Chris Marshall, acting director of the Veteran Benefit Administration’s regional office in Los Angeles, said that there’s “a positive” with the backlog in LA.

“It means we are going after the oldest claims first,” said Marshall, who has been Portland regional office director since 2009 and continues in that role while also serving in a temporary leadership role in LA.

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