THE LST-325 that visited Charleston over the Labor Day weekend is a wonderful example of the mighty capabilities of the U.S. military.
This ship and her crew, along with hundreds more like her, helped defeat Axis Powers bent on world domination in World War II.
There are many more examples of the strategic capabilities of the U.S. military, from aircraft that can fly undetected in enemy airspace to unmanned drones that carry out strategic kills on terrorist targets half a world away.
With these awesome abilities of the best trained and best equipped military in the history of the world, why then can the Veterans Administration not adequately serve the needs of those returning from military service?
On Aug. 22, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shineski reported that the VA has reduced a backlog of disability claims by 20 percent. So now, there are only 773,000 backlogged claims. Sixty-two percent of those claims have been pending for more than four months.
Of course, bureaucratic backlog at the Veterans Administration is nothing new. The agency has been a poster-child of inefficiency for decades.
With some 6,000 service members killed and 50,000 wounded in the years of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, such a response rate is unacceptable.
Former secretary for Veterans Affairs Anthony Principi wrote in the Wall Street Journal that a big part of the backlog is that injured veterans just back from Iraq are put in the same queue as any other veteran, regardless of claim. Nearly 80 percent of the backlogged claims are from veterans who served before Sept. 11, 2001.
"Every claim for compensation must fend for itself in a bureaucracy for which every veteran is first priority - which means of course, that no veteran is the first priority," Principi said.
He points out that some veterans in their 80s and 90s can receive 100 percent disability as retirees, while Afghanistan veterans with below-the-knee amputations get only 40 percent disability.
As Principi says, the Obama administration, the Pentagon, Congress and the VA must reassess what laws, regulations and rules can be changed to ensure that benefits are treated quickly and fairly.