Department of Veterans Affairs disability claims filed by reservists and members of the National Guard were approved at rates 11% to 20% lower across a 10-year period than those submitted by active-duty personnel across the services — a reflection of the challenges those troops face proving that an injury or illness is related to military service, a federal watchdog agency has found.
In 2022, more than 706,000 troops were serving in the reserves or National Guard — one-third of all members of the U.S. armed forces. As a result of their unique status, only those injured or sickened while serving on federal orders for periods of 30 days or more or reservists harmed during annual training are eligible to apply for disability compensation.
But those service members may be unaware of the importance of immediately reporting health issues resulting from activation or drills, according to a report published Monday by the Government Accountability Office. Meanwhile, the military services fall short in accurately documenting periods of service, preventing troops with the same health challenges as active-duty members from getting care and assistance, it added.
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By analyzing data provided by the VA and interviewing researchers, veterans service representatives and organizations, GAO auditors found that the department approved lower…