A congressional subcommittee today plans to take up the topic of missing war records from Iraq and Afghanistan, the subject of a ProPublica-Seattle Times investigation last month.
The hearing by the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs can be seen live starting at 2 p.m.
Witnesses include representatives from major veterans’ groups, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs , the National Archives and Records Administration and the Defense Department.
The ProPublica and the Times reported over Veterans Day weekend that, despite orders, dozens of U.S. Army units in both theaters had lost or failed to keep field records during the wars. The records — such as after-action reports, casualty reports and duty logs — provide vital information for historians and can be critical evidence for veterans seeking disability benefits.
“The impact that accurate recordkeeping and access to records has on the backlog of VA disability claims and the negative impact to our veterans cannot be stressed enough,” subcommittee Chairman Jon Runyan, R-N.J., said in a statement to ProPublica.
“It is important that this issue receive the attention and oversight it merits, as it has a very real effect on the lives of those who have served our nation, and the barriers they run into to access the benefits they have earned through that service,” Runyon said.
The panel is taking up the issue as part of a larger discussion about the VA’s plans for transitioning to paperless records. Scheduled witnesses include:
• Richard Dumancas, deputy director for claims, The American Legion
• Michael Viterna, president, National Association of Veterans Advocates
• Jeffrey Hall, assistant national legislative director, Disabled American Veterans
• Jim Neighbors, director of DoD/VA Collaboration Office, U.S. Department of Defense
• Scott Levins, director of National Personnel Records Center, U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
• Alan Bozeman, director, Veterans Benefits Management System Program Office, Veterans Benefits Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.