Veterans deserve the benefits promised to them. And while those services are available, Ohio is one of the worst states at getting the veterans services they are due.
Ohio ranks 43rd in the number of veterans using services, such as disability benefits and pensions, according to a federal government ranking. But Ohio has the sixth largest population of veterans in the country more than 1 million. About 10 percent of Ohio veterans receive disability or pension benefits, compared with the national average of 12 percent.
The problem is those in need of long-term assistance must deal with the federal government, rather than a state or local agency. The process can be daunting and difficult to manage.
Gov. Ted Strickland is creating a 22-member council to study how the state can get more federal aid potentially $500 million more. Strickland is also pushing for the creation of a cabinet-level office to help in this process.
The governor already has an Office of Veterans Affairs, which advises him on veterans' issues and oversees county-level offices. Strickland argues creating a cabinet office would give the issue more visibility and importance.
Strickland has long been a champion for veterans, fighting hard for them during his time in Congress, and we applaud that continued effort. However, more bureaucracy is not necessarily the best solution to the problems facing veterans. The state must have less red tape, not more, between veterans and their services.
Restructuring the existing department to be a conduit between vets and the federal government would be a better, more cost-effective solution.