As of May 6, 2013, there were 19,900 veterans waiting to hear a response from the St. Louis Regional VA "about compensation for a disease, injury or illness linked to service in the military."
Where does that number, and classification of it, come from? The Center for Investigative Reporting has released a huge set of data (which is periodically updated) from the nation's Department of Veterans' Affairs and its local offices.
Making the transition from the military to civilian life can be difficult.
Many veterans come out of the military with combat trauma, a condition which must be dealt with before they can move on. And many don’t admit their condition for fear their discharge will be delayed or they won’t be able to get jobs needing a security clearance or jobs in law enforcement.
Only a fraction of those with combat trauma register with a VA hospital.
According to the group’s website, “Our nation’s veterans each have a unique perspective to share about our history. First-hand recollections of their service provide a richer and more personal context to historical accounts.”