A backlog of disability claims at the Veterans Affairs Department is worsening as our soldiers return from Iraq and Afghanistan.
They're adding to more than 200,000 claims filed by Vietnam veterans since 2010.
That's when the chemical compound agent orange was officially linked to several illnesses and the court ruling in Nehmer vs. The Department of Veterans Affairs made it easier for related claims to be processed.
Kirk Bennett helps soldiers, veterans and family members with the claim process at the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 29 office in Harker Heights.
Over the past year the office has had to more than double it's hours of operation just to keep up.
Right now Bennett says claims can actually take up to 18 months or more.
"People have got to be a little patient, and just try to wait out the completion of that backlog from the court order," said Bennett.
Last year his office took on 3,000 claims.
Bennett says starting off this year with 400 in January alone is a sign that the influx of soldiers will continue to overwhelm the VA.
Reporter: Sophia Stamas firstname.lastname@example.org
Photographer: Chris Buford