“Widespread,” blatant mismanagement at the Veterans Benefits Administration was found to be the cause of veterans being denied benefits or, even worse, creating such a backlog that many vets died before even receiving any VA benefits, reported CBS News.
The VA is responsible for distributing $95 billion in disability, pensions for vets or surviving spouses, and death benefits. This revelation comes in the continuous wake of the bombshell report that exposed massive administrative problems at the Phoenix VA hospital last year.
Whistleblowers from within the VA have been outing the department’s terrible, lazy administration. According to CBS News, five whistleblowers from a benefits office in Oakland, CA said “more than 13,000 informal claims filed between 1996 and 2009 . . . ended up in a stashed file cabinet and ignored until 2012.”
These claims were letters from veterans requesting an application for VA benefits. Law requires the VA to respond with an application.
“We were getting letters from elderly veterans and from widows who were literally at the end of their life, begging for help,” said whistleblower Rustyann Brown. “Half the veterans were dead that I screened. So almost every other piece of paper that I touched was a veteran who had already passed away.”
Stashing backlogs of VA applicants became a rampant problem with the VA, and the practice, which had applicants waiting for over a decade, would leave many veterans dead before even getting a response. It’s also highly illegal. A former clinical director of the Phoenix VA hospital said 40 vets died while waiting for treatment by June of last year.
Brown also said “poor record-keeping” caused several veterans to not receive “benefits to which they may have been entitled.” When she pulled 15 files at random to examine, Brown found that eight were owed, but never received, thousands of dollars worth of benefits.
There have also been reports of lost or mishandled claims spreading across six VA offices in the country. In a benefits office in Baltimore, about 9,500 records are sitting on employees’ desks collecting dust, and some VA employees manipulated incomplete claims to look otherwise.
But what about when an applicant dies while waiting for treatment, or even a response from the VA? There have been reports of some VA hospitals hiding the actual number of deaths to create an appearance of efficiency. The most notorious perpetrator of this action is the Phoenix VA hospital.
When a veteran would die while waiting for treatment, “supervisors . . . ordered the removal of the ‘deceased’ notes from the dead patients’ files to make VA statistics look good.”
These veterans volunteered their lives to protect the country, and this is the respect and treatment they get? This type of lazy mismanagement is an insult to veterans, their families, and the millions of taxpayers who help fund these benefits.