Wichita VA office expands, hope for timely access to veterans benefits

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) – The Department of Veterans Affairs held a ribbon cutting Thursday for its new regional office in Wichita.

More veterans are getting earned benefits meaning the staff to process them has grown, and more growth is expected.

“We had a big crisis in the mid-2010s,” said Denis McDonough, US Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary. “Veterans were filing claims and waiting, in some cases, years, for their claims to be adjudicated.”

McDonough said it takes about 157 days to process veteran benefits. He believes the 25 newly hired people in Wichita will help shrink that wait. The extra 10,000 square foot space includes room for up to 112 claims processors.

More Kansas veterans have signed up for VA benefits in recent years. When comparing US census data and the most recent data from the US Department of Veterans Affairs, 52% of Kansas veterans were signed up for VA benefits in 2022, a jump from 28% in 2014.

“We have about 1,400 newly enrolled Kansans at the Dole Veteran Hospital. As we get more and more veterans in relationship with us, we need more room to process those claims. This facility will allow us to do that,” explained McDonough.

The PACT Act, signed by President Biden and strongly supported by Senator Jerry Moran (R) in 2022, opened the door for more veterans to access VA benefits.