IAWA Introduces Powerful New Tool to Help Veterans Waiting for Claims

The Wait we Carry is a stunning, state-of-the-art interactive project designed to improve the claims process and tell Veterans’ stories. 

The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) introduced a unique and powerful new interactive tool that puts a spotlight on VBA’s claim delay and error crisis and brings Veterans’ stories to life.

Using a $250,000 grant from the Knight Foundation, IAVA partnered with Periscopic, an industry-leading information visualization firm, to create The Wait We Carry, a website designed to improve benefits for Veterans by collecting and publicizing data on the VA’s disability claims.

The site allows Veterans to submit data on pending claims and thereby create a new level of transparency about VA’s infamous backlog – the inventory of claims waiting to be processed at VA.  Users of the site can look at individual claims by branch of service, wait times and other information.

Most everyone now knows the shocking numbers behind the VA’s claim delay and error crisis:  800,000 Veterans wait an average of more than one year for VA to process their claims; and VA’s Inspector General reports VA makes mistakes in 30 percent of high-risk claims.

But, as IAVA notes, it’s not enough to talk about the numbers. What are those Veterans really going through? How is their wait for benefits affecting them and their families?

IAVA asked Veterans to share their experiences while waiting for their benefits. Their stories are shocking, emotional, inspirational and revealing.

In a note sent to veterans across the country this week, Jacob Worrell, OIF Veteran, US Army 2004-2007 and product strategy associate at  IAVA, writes, “I’ve been working on this (project) for months, and I am certain that The Wait We Carry is powerful enough to end the VA backlog for good. Make sure you check it out today at thewaitwecarry.org.”

The power of this project is that it tells Veterans’ stories in their own words and holds everybody accountable for the unacceptably long wait times. That’s why IAVA is determined that it is crucial that The Wait We Carry goes viral.

The project is designed to show that, behind every piece of data, there is a real person. It’s already getting national media attention, such as this story from Yahoo News.

All IAVA asks is that veterans and their loved ones fill out a brief but comprehensive survey in which they not only report the details about their claims, but also describe the emotional and financial toll the process has taken on them.

For veterans wondering, why did IAVA choose the name, “The Wait We Carry”?  There is a famous book about the Vietnam War, “The Things They Carried,” by Tim O’Brien, describing the poignant and sentimental tokens our service members kept with them while deployed to the conflict.

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