In the course of reporting that story, SFR had requested figures from New Mexico’s VA headquarters in Albuquerque, but going through all the proper channels took too long (no irony intended) to get the information before press time. Ultimately, though, the VA’s numbers came, and offer additional insight into the challenges faced by veterans in New Mexico.
According to VA Public Affairs Officer Jo Ann Pacheco, it takes an average of 158 days for New Mexico veterans’ claims to be processed.
Currently, Pacheco writes in an email to SFR, there are approximately 3,800 pending disability claims; more than one-third of those have been in process for more than 125 days. Pacheco also writes that, while a new, simplified method for approving post-traumatic stress disorder claims has streamlined the process somewhat, it still “does not necessarily decrease the number of new or reopened claims for PTSD.”