Between the Lines By Mark Halperin

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President Barack Obama speaks speaks during a campaign stop at Bayliss Park August 13, 2012 in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

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Veterans routinely complain about how much paperwork they have to do to apply for Veterans Affairs benefits. They have a point. The VA's inspector general recently visited the agency's office in Winston-Salem, N.C., and found claims forms stacked so high that they "appeared to have the potential to compromise the integrity of the building." The IG's report estimated that "approximately 37,000 claims folders were stored on top of file cabinets." The weight on the sixth floor was 164 lb. per sq. ft., well above the safe limit of 125 lb. "We noticed floors bowing under the excess weight," the IG said. The paper deluge would be funny if it weren't the result of a sobering fact: 45% of veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars are seeking VA compensation for physical and mental injuries related to their service. The agency handled 1 million claims in each of the past two years and will handle another million this year, a VA spokesman says. VA officials removed the paper mountains and are looking into electronic record keeping to deal with the paper problem. Dealing with the injuries is another matter.

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