NACVSO Congressional Testimony


NACVSO Policy Director Testifies Before House Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs

Mr. Herm Breuer, the Policy Director of the NACVSO, provided testimony to the House Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs (DAMA) on Wednesday, June 27, 2024. Addressing Chairman Morgan Luttrell (R-TX), Ranking Member Chris Pappas (D-NH), and other distinguished members, Mr. Breuer emphasized the need for refinements in the VA claims adjudication process to better serve veterans.

"The VA Claim process has been significantly improved with the implementation of the National Work Queue (NWQ)," Breuer stated. "However, further efficiency can be achieved by enhancing collaboration between VA representatives and veterans' advocates to expedite the collection of necessary information and evidence."

Drawing from his personal experience as an Army veteran wounded in Iraq, Breuer highlighted the lengthy delays he faced during the initial development of his claim due to the paper-based system. He noted that while the NWQ has streamlined the process, there are still areas for improvement.

Breuer pointed out that the NWQ's introduction was initially met with skepticism from advocates who feared losing the personal touch of knowing the right people in their Regional Office. However, he acknowledged that the NWQ, combined with the fully developed claim process, has led to noticeable reductions in wait times. He stressed the importance of VA representatives working directly with veterans and their accredited representatives to obtain additional information or evidence, rather than unnecessarily returning claims to the NWQ.

Breuer called for a collaborative relationship between the VA and veteran advocates to minimize delays and ensure veterans receive their benefits promptly. He expressed his gratitude to the subcommittee for the opportunity to share NACVSO's insights and looked forward to continued collaboration.

During the Q&A session, Chairman Luttrell asked if Breuer had discussed his suggestions with VA leadership, to which Breuer confirmed he had and that they were well received. Ranking Member Pappas inquired about the impact of performance quotas on claim accuracy, and Breuer acknowledged that these quotas often lead to delays in claim decisions that advocates could help mitigate.

The session ended with Chairman Luttrell thanking the witnesses who provided testimony and Ranking Member Pappas stating, “We’ve got to make sure that the systems that are in place are serving our end-veterans in the best and most efficient way possible-- and that we are rewarding those who are doing this work.”