Just when you thought is was safe to go back to the VA come signs the water is not inviting for veterans looking to make disability benefit claims. A scare report in Stars and Stripes by Leo Shane III screams the VA may have overpaid disabled veterans.By Michael Leon
It's the veteans' fault of-course. And veterans need more oversight. Writes Shane:
Poor oversight and missing medical follow-ups led to nearly $1 billion in overpayments in veterans disability benefits over the last 18 years, and could lead to another $1 billion in improper payouts in the near future if left unchecked, according to a new investigation.This is a witch hunt in the making.
Shane cites the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) Office of the Inspector General's report and Michael Walcoff, acting VA Under Secretary for Benefits.
Walcoff is infamous in veteran advocates' circles for defending the old PTSD regulations and preventing private doctors from being used by veterans for a PTSD diagnosis acceptable to the Veterans Benefit Administration.
Walcott is with Dr. Sally Satel of the anti-veteran, pro-war American Enterprise Institute in this view. "We believe that our VA are really the world experts on this particular condition, especially PTSD as it arises from war," said Walcoff last year.
The national and regional IG's offices are stacked with anti-veteran neocons.
So we have a situation where the few overworked veterans on the Court of Appeals for Veterans (CAVC) bar cannot advocate for the 100,ooos of veterans on an effective scale. And the regualtions are complex factually and legally so the VSOs who care do not have a chance at assisting veterans.
This IG report and PR stategy are getting us warmed up for the mass demonization of so-called greedy, disabled veterans whose futures will be in the hands of the new Congress and its expressed concerns about costs, efficiencies and privatization.
Anti-veteran think tanks like Dr. Satel's, the IGs and the national media are generating the scare headlines and stories of greedy, lying veterans.
Said Paul Sullivan, executive director of Veterans for Common Sense:
The VA IG investigation shows VBA staff failed to enter data into a computer ordering a second examination of veterans receiving temporary 100 percent benefits. This remains a training and oversight problem at VBA. However, the Stars and Stripesheadline is misleading because VBA could have also underpaid veterans billions of dollars because of VBA delays or failures to perform examinations, a point stressed by VBA leaders in their response to the IG. In order to resolve the possibility of overpayments and underpayments, VBA should improve computer systems and improve training, things VBA promises to do. Unfortunately, some misguided opponents of VA will seize the headline to attack temporary benefits as well as to demand major budget cuts at VA.
The reality is the VA and VBA have underpaid disabled veterans by $Billions for decades.