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00000176-e6f7-dce8-adff-f6f770410000PublicSource is an independent, nonprofit news group that focuses on original investigative reporting about critical issues facing Pittsburgh and the Western Pennsylvania region. It was launched to undertake in-depth reporting in the public interest.PublicSource is a content partner of 90.5 WESA.More about PublicSource here.

After Guns and Grenades, PA Veterans Claims Delayed

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Dan Blevins, 29, of Carnegie is one of more than 10,000 veterans in Pennsylvania who has been waiting more than a year for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to rule on disability claims.
 
In Afghanistan, Blevins jumped from a Humvee onto an icy dirt road and broke his right foot. Even after surgery, he has days when it is too painful to walk.
 
Since duty in Iraq, he gets migraines that feel as if  “somebody is taking a hammer to my head.”
 
Because of too many bombs, guns and grenades, he has tinnitus that he believes has cut his hearing by half.
 
Blevins’ case is caught up in the Pittsburgh regional office, which has one of the worst claims records in the nation. It is ranked 51st out of 58 regional offices, with 79 percent of its cases backlogged for more than four months, including 3,800 veterans waiting more than a year for a ruling.
 
Veterans served by the Philadelphia office fare better. It is ranked 21st in the country, with 64 percent of its cases backlogged, including 6,300 veterans waiting more than a year.
 
The problem has been in the spotlight for several years.

Read more of this story on the website of our partner PublicSource.