"I tell people that I work with that they're going to wait 18 to 24 months before they have their first adjudication," says veterans advocate Jim Strickland, who runs the site VAwatchdogtoday.org. In the last year, the backlog of disability claims at the VA has grown from 500,000 to more than 800,000.
Officials at the VA point to two main reasons: the wave of young veterans coming home injured; and new rules allowing Vietnam veterans to apply for more compensation from Agent Orange exposure.
"The number was so high for us, we had to try something very, very different," Hoffman says. He settled on a blitz.
For one full week in March, the region's VA hospitals and clinics dedicated 80 percent of their appointments to C&P exams, clearing 2,000 cases.
Hoffman is hoping for similar results from another blitz next week and another in May. If that happens, the strategy could eliminate the region's C&P backlog.