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SEN. SPECTER ASKS V.A. AND ARMY TO TAKE STEPS TO MAKE CERTAIN THAT PA. UNIT VETS INJURED IN SCUD ATTACK IN SAUDI ARABIA ARE TREATED FAIRLY

SEN. SPECTER ASKS V.A. AND ARMY TO TAKE STEPS TO MAKE CERTAIN THAT PA.
 UNIT VETS INJURED IN SCUD ATTACK IN SAUDI ARABIA ARE TREATED FAIRLY
 WASHINGTON, May 26 /PRNewswire/ -- U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) has asked the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Army to take certain steps to assure that the victims of the Feb. 25, 1991, SCUD missile attack on the 14th Quartermaster Detachment barracks in Saudi Arabia are treated fairly.
 Members of this detachment, most of them Pennsylvanians, had expressed dissatisfaction with the VA's and the Army's response to their needs. As a result, Specter, who is the ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, had his staff people look into these complaints.
 In separate letters to VA Secretary Edward J. Derwinski and Army Secretary Michael P.W. Stone, Specter specified his areas of concern and what he felt should be done to assist these injured veterans.
 While praising the special efforts made by the VA regional office and hospital employees in Pittsburgh, he told Derwinski that some of the injured had claimed that the disability ratings they received were too low and that they had not received every benefit to which they are entitled under law.
 "I believe," Specter said, "it is important that any doubts that may be lingering regarding these veterans' disability ratings be laid to rest. Because of this and to assure the veterans of the 14th Quartermaster Detachment that they have received every consideration, I request that you arrange to have each case reviewed in the VA Central Office after processing has been completed in the regional office.
 "I think that everyone involved will appreciate this extra effort to guarantee a fair and accurate evaluation of these veterans' claims."
 In his letter to Stone, Specter said members of the reserve unit, which is located in Greensburg, Pa., had experienced problems in filing claims for disability compensation, primarily because of an abundance of red tape. He said he was concerned about the timeliness and the quality of health care and benefits assistance for these veterans.
 "Because of my concern," he said, "my staff and I have made inquiries to both the VA and the Army to assess the problem. What we learned was that it often took an excessive amount of time -- sometimes up to eight months -- for a veteran to have his or her claim processed by the VA. In almost every instance, the delays were the result of the time it took to transfer the veteran's Service Medical Records (SMR) from the Army to the VA."
 Specter said the inordinate amount of time it took to locate and forward SMRs is unacceptable.
 "I would appreciate it if you would look into this problem and respond to me in writing with any recommendations you may have on how the system of transferring medical records can be improved," he said.
 Specter also noted that he had received complaints from some of the injured about the quality of prosthesis provided to these amputees and that the Inspector General (IG) was conducting an investigation into the Army's prosthetic program. He asked to receive a copy of the IG's report when it is available.
 /delval/
 -0- 5/26/92
 /CONTACT: Dan McKenna or Susan Lamontagne of Sen. Arlen Specter's office, 202-224-9020/ CO: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; U.S. Army; 14th Quartermaster
 Detachment ST: Pennsylvania IN: SU:


MP-xx -- PH008 -- 3653 05/26/92 09:58 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:May 26, 1992
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