Monday, November 3, 2008

VA 'Shredder-Gate' story goes Public.


Just so you all don't think I was dreaming this all up... I have personally, in my 30 some years of doing business with the VA, know that they are capable of lying, stealing, misrepresenting, and screwing up medications, forgetting medications... verbal abuse... just to mention a few things.

Please take my advice and ALWAYS make a duplicate COPY of all your records and documents and save them in a safe place-- because the VA just loves to "lose' you paper work, and they also have 'mysterious fires' from time to time, like the one in St. Louis.
ENTION -- U.S. News & World Report: It will be
nearly impossible to figure out how many documents
had been incorrectly destroyed in the past.


Veterans' Benefit Claims Records Wrongly Headed for VA Shredders
By Amanda Ruggeri

If military veterans applying for benefits either haven't gotten a reply
from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or received a different
response than expected, it could mean that evidence for their claim file
wound up in the shredder.

A nationwide review of the VA's 57 regional offices has found that 41 had
records in their shredder bins that shouldn't have been there. In all,
nearly 500 benefit claims records had been erroneously slated for
destruction, including claims for compensation, notices of disagreement with
a claim decision, and death certificates.

That number could drop, because the investigation is still tracking down
some claims folders to see whether or not the records have already been
incorporated into them. But officials also remain unsure how long the
situation has been going on-and how many veterans may have been affected.

"The common problem in the VA system has been delays in getting the mail to
the [veteran's] file," says Steve Smithson, deputy director of veterans
affairs at the American Legion. "But shredding documents that may be
relevant to the claim is new to us."

<> The issue first surfaced when audits
by the VA's Office of Inspector General found records erroneously placed in
shredder bins in the VA office in Detroit. In an ensuing nationwide review,
the VA discovered that the Detroit office was only part of the problem.
There are 474 documents that still cannot be identified as duplicated in
veterans' claim files. Three offices have contributed more than half: St.
Louis, with 94; Columbia, S.C., with 95; and Cleveland, with 53.

Particular individuals in the Columbia and St. Louis offices are being
"looked at closely" in an ongoing investigation, VA Undersecretary for
Benefits Patrick Dunne says. "They are not handling clients." Sources from
veterans' organizations say they believe the two potential perpetrators to
be under administrative leave. The Cleveland office also remains under
investigation, and no particular worker has yet been identified as the
source of the problem there.

VA's shredder bins typically are emptied once or twice a week, meaning that
the 474 documents may represent only a few days' worth of errors. It will be
nearly impossible to figure out how many documents had been incorrectly
destroyed in the past-or if any have, Dunne says.

The approximately 50 different kinds of records found slated for
destruction-including nine compensation claims, 18 notices of disagreement
with a decision, and two death notices-could be key pieces of evidence for a
veteran's application for benefits, says Jerry Manar, the national veterans
service deputy director for the Veterans of Foreign Wars. If a key piece of
evidence has been shredded, "it can result in the denial of a claim," Manar
says. More than 800,000 claims of various kinds are currently pending in the
VA's backlog.

The VA has taken swift action in an attempt to get the situation under
control. All regional offices were immediately ordered to halt any shredding
until changes are put in place. Training began in some of the regional
offices this week to re-educate employees on the proper procedures for
filing and shredding papers.

Meanwhile, a policy is being drafted to strengthen oversight in the regional
offices. The revised policy likely will include a two-person review, in
which an employee will initial and date a document slated for shredding,
give it to his or her supervisor for review, and only then destroy it.

Some in the veterans community are urging more oversight. Rep. Bob Filner,
head of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, recently announced that he
will hold a hearing on the issue the week of November 17.

Veterans are urged to call their service officers or the VA itself if they
have any reason to think their claims file is incomplete, particularly if
they have not received a letter of acknowledgement for the submission of a
claim after 30 days or if the VA's list of documents received seems

"We can't tolerate even one veteran's piece of paper being missing," Dunne
says. "We're taking action to make sure it doesn't happen again."

And check this one out below too >>> !!
If this happened to welfare people the entire Congress and "News" Media would be camped out on the White House steps... lol ! But when it happens to injured combat Vets -- who cares??

1 comment:

tsalagiman1 said...

You're right - if anything of the sort had happened to the welfare system, you would not only have the media playing & re-playing this over & over 24/7, you would have every special interest group out there marching in the streets bullhorns blaring. Veterans? Those who defend our freedom & keep America America? No - it's all very quiet. I wouldn't be surprised if the truth were known, that these documents weren't shredded to eliminate the backlog. Whether or not that's true, any veterans who were the victim of this now have the privilege of starting the nightmare process all over again.

Your advice on keeping copies of paperwork is very good advice, not only where the VA is concerned, but any business dealings now. It's amazing how many things get "lost" or how people get amnesia when responsibility starts falling on them.

It would create a hardship in the short-term for veterans, but the more I hear the more I inclined to be in favor of eliminating the VA & starting all over again. It seems the problems the VA has are just too many to try & fix. As government agencies go, I think the VA has got to be the worst - & it's shameful as a nation that this is how our government treats veterans.