Our opinion: Real help for vets

When our nation needed them, veterans of the armed forces responded quickly and decisively. In every time of peril, they prevailed over our enemies – even if, sometimes, public opinion and diplomacy did not follow through.

Contrast the veterans’ record with that of our government: As of Nov. 4, the last date for which the Veterans Administration released figures, the number of backlogged claims for veterans’ benefits was 382,473. Claims are considered to be backlogged if they have been pending for 125 days or more.

Among those 382,473 claims are some for World War II veterans who are now well into their 80s. For some of them, death will beat the bureaucracy.

VA officials vow to eliminate the backlog by 2015. Yet for several years, the number of claims for which resolution has been delayed has grown, not declined.

Clearly, some claims cannot be handled expeditiously, for a variety of reasons. Some are beyond the VA’s control.

But the agency admits it could take care of most benefits claims and appeals much more quickly than it does.

Why is it that our government, with priorities ranging from subsidies for “alternative” energy producers to implementing Obamacare, cannot do better with veterans’ claims for benefits?

As long as that is the case, veterans will be entitled to wonder whether we really are grateful to them.