JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- New hope is being offered to veterans who have been waiting for disability benefits.
As a result of a legislative package passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama last year, veterans will now be able to receive retroactive benefits.
Robert Hull is a Vietnam Veteran. He says at age 16 he enlisted in the army and that's all he has ever known.
"I'm military all the way. Even my wife says you should retire as a veteran," said Hull.
Hull received a Purple Heart in 2003. During his service in Vietnam, he says he was seriously wounded in an attack. He went through surgery and was in the hospital for four months.
"When we [soldiers] came home we didn't have no parade, we got spit in the face, they called us baby killers and now when I see a veteran I shake his hand and I say thank you for your service," said Hull.
Now as a Disabled American Veterans Service officer Hull dedicates his time to helping other veterans get disability benefits, but a backlog of claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs has kept many veterans waiting.
"I have a veteran right now he's been waiting four years," said Hull.
Starting August 6 through August 5, 2015, Congress is offering a new incentive that will clear claims faster for veterans who file a Fully Developed Claim (FDC).
A fully developed claim means that the veteran, not the Department of Veterans Affairs, gathers all of the supporting documents for the claim and files everything at once. The FDC will also grant retroactive benefits for up to one year. Hull says this new incentive is desperately needed.
"Iraq war ended, you had more veterans coming home and you have more veterans getting discharged every day and then you're talking about pulling out of Afghanistan what within a year or so," said Hull.
DAV officers like Hull are helping veterans fill out the fully developed claim. The incentive aims to completely eliminate the claims backlog by 2015. For more information, click here.
First Coast News