WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel, made the following remarks, as prepared for delivery, on the Subcommittee's joint hearing titled “Overview of Military Review Board Agencies.” For testimony and to watch the hearing click here.
"I want to welcome everyone to today’s hearing on the military review board agencies. Eighteen months ago, the subcommittee held a hearing designed to provide an overview of the review board agencies, including an understanding of their workload. The purpose of today’s hearing is to follow up with the review boards to determine what improvements have been made to the process and what challenges the boards still face.
Each of the services have a board for correction of military records and a discharge review board designed to correct errors in, and remove injustices from, military records. They receive thousands of applications each year from applicants requesting everything from name changes on personnel documents to discharge upgrades.
In reviewing the written statements of the witnesses today, I am encouraged by the level of effort and dedication that has gone into improving the efficiency and thoroughness of the boards’ processes. I was also struck by the sheer volume of applications that the boards receive each year.
However, despite the great strides that have been made, much work remains. I remain deeply concerned by the persistent backlog of applications and delays in processing. The services have been unable to meet many of the congressionally-mandated processing timelines for the past few years. In some cases, veterans have waited 450 days or more for action on their applications. These delays have real consequences for both the applicants and their families.
While I appreciate the fact that case volume has increased significantly and many of the cases are more complex, I look forward to hearing from the witnesses what your long-term plans are to fix the backlogs. In addition, I would like to hear from each of the witnesses how you are leveraging technology to improve efficiency. Finally, I look forward to hearing what additional resources are needed to ensure the boards are able to meet processing timelines in the future.
We are joined today by an outstanding panel. We will give each witness the opportunity to present his or her testimony and each member an opportunity to question the witnesses. We would respectfully remind the witnesses to summarize, to the greatest extent possible, the high points of your written testimony in 5 minutes or less. Your written comments and statements will be made part of the hearing record.
Let me welcome our panel:
Ms. Francine Blackmon
Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Review Boards
Mr. Robert Woods
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs
Mr. John Fedrigo
Director of the Air Force Review Boards Agency"