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Q1 2024 SITREP

Sitrep, or situation report, is a summary of the current situation most often used in the military to provide periodic updates. A sitrep is typical­ly short and concise, focusing on important in­formation. I think this situational summary is a perfect opportunity to exercise transparency at all levels of Veterans benefits and services including county Veterans Services.

On March 4, 2024, VA processes one millionth Veteran benefit claim in fiscal year 2024 (Octo­ber 1, 2023 – September 30, 2024) which is near­ly six weeks faster than previous record (FY23). This is a nearly 35% increase over this time last year.

As of 04/06/2024, VA claims inventory has 975,947 pending claims which includes received compensation and pension claims requiring de­velopment and a decision. VA claims backlog is 330,645 claims, a subset of the inventory pend­ing for more than 125 days. The average number of days to complete a claim is 155.

During the first quarter of calendar year 2024, Lake County Veterans Services (two VSOs) con­nected with at least 175 Veterans or family mem­bers. We documented nearly 500 interactions during this time which include in-person ap­pointments, phone calls, emails, and mail (paper correspondence). The reported interactions are low since we often combine multiple interactions of the same type on the same day into a single en­try within our Veterans management system.

We do not have a means of tracking interactions with other entities such as other county depart­ments, business partners, or currently unidenti­fied Veterans and family members. I do know I sent 580 emails between January 1 and March 30, 2024. After a few crayons and a quick review of my Math for Marines coloring book, I am estimat­ing close to 10 interactions per day per VSO in Q1.

Most interactions generate at least one action item which requires time to complete. We are nearing 100 individuals awaiting claims develop­ment. We respectfully request your patience, as we attempt to provide quality service in a timely manner within the confines of our workday/week.

Regardless of the current workload or backlog, I do not want anyone to be discouraged from contacting your county Veterans Services office. Reach out to schedule your initial appointment, get your name on our list, start submitting forms, collect evidence, and get the ball rolling. Please do not delay in applying for benefits. The time to start is before you have an urgent need for benefits.

Brad Anderson and Melissa Crandall are the Lake County Veterans Service Officers and can be reached at 218.834.8326 or cvso@co.lake.mn.us Karen Christianson is the Cook County Veterans Service Officer and can be reached at 218.387.3639, or karen.christianson@co.cook.mn.us

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