Winston-Salem -- Ahead of Veterans Day, the director of the Winston-Salem Veterans Affairs office says her office has made significant progress in correcting a filing mess.
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A report from the Inspector General's office earlier this year estimates about 37,000 veterans claims folders were improperly stored: exposed to potential water damage, on floors, on top of filing cabinets and other inappropriate locations.
Rawls says her office is in the process of installing a high-density filing system. She adds that they've also secured an offsite storage facility and many of the files have been relocated there.
The storage problems have been piling up since 2005.
The Inspector General's report explains the weight of the files, at one point, threatened the structural integrity of the building, and some were at risk of being lost all together.
To look at the workspace now, you would never believe the filing clutter it was for seven years.
A multi-stage construction has been going on for a month now.
"You can see it's a new manual system," said Megan Miller, the public affairs officer, as she cranked the manual high-density cabinets.
Miller says the goal is to find proper storage for the estimated 37,000 claims files that were not properly stored for years.
"We've known that this has been a challenge for a long time and we were in the process of trying to find, not only off-site storage to work on the problem, but to get permission to move ahead with a long term solution," Miller said.
Since News 2 was last there in August, a lot has changed.
"Before we were able to move out the file cabinets we weren't able to fully open some of the file drawers," Miller explained.
Now the office has removed more than 500 of the old filing cabinets and spaced out the ones left on the 6th floor.
That means employees can now fully open the cabinets and get to all the claims files.
"As you can see we've removed our 15,000 claim folders from the top of the cabinets," Miller added.
According to Miller, the filing problems never impacted veterans but the progress, so far, has increased efficiency in processing their files.
"The file storage situation is something that we want to resolve for long term efficiency," she said. "But it does not impact our ability to serve veterans and get out their claims folders when we need to make a decision."
Despite the progress, the office is not near solving their storage issues.
As News 2 walked around parts of the office on Friday, there were still files on the floor, on desks and work areas.
The difference this time, though, is that they are neatly stacked and labeled.
Both Rawls and Miller say it's another sign that they realize the problem and are working to fix it.
The administrators in the Winston-Salem VA office say they are ahead of schedule and will have their entire - new and improved -- storage system completed by December.
News 2 will check back and hold them to their word.