On Feb. 9, 2013, The Daily Beast reported on the shocking delays experienced by veterans after filing disability claims with the V.A.. According to the Center for Investigative Reporting, it takes approximately 272 days for a veteran's benefits claim to be processed. As the V.A. copes with a 900,000 claim backlog, caused primarily by administrative problems, 53 veterans die on a daily basis while waiting for the benefits they desperately need, have earned and are entitled to. Amidst these ongoing problems, the Colorado Springs Gazette is reporting this morning on another veterans charity about to run out of funds.
The Home Front Cares, a Colorado based non-profit, serves combat veterans and their family members, all deployed since 9/11. The charity pays for a wide variety of emergency needs and services for Colorado veterans. According to executive director April Speake, to reach this year's fiscal fundraising goals, The Home Front Cares needs to raise $200,000 by the end of April. The charity is now tapping it's reserves to assist those in need, considering it a moral imperative. "This fiscal year we have not been able to grow in response to the need like we did last year," Speake said.
Program director Sonja Dahmer said, "We are sometimes the last resort before a veteran finds himself trying to commit suicide. Over the last four and a half years, I have prevented numerous suicides by assessing the situation quickly, referring to mental health and requesting The Home Front Cares to build a short term bridge to financial well-being."
Because of the large number of veterans leaving the military, coupled with the down economy, requests for assistance are rising rapidly. Speake said, "It may mean fewer clients. But with needs rising, I don't feel that's the appropriate approach. It may mean a reduction in the organization itself. Do we go on hiatus helping clients, or do we close our doors? We're not ready to go there yet."