(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs (SVAC), led a letter with fellow committee members Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) to request an update from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on what is being done to address the significant inadequacies in the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) Fiduciary Program as identified in two recent audits. In a letter to VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald, the senators noted the two separate audits by the VA Office of the Inspector General (VAOIG) reporting consistent failures by VBA to conduct field examinations and misuse procedures in a timely manner, resulting in the misuse of veterans’ hard-earned benefits. This letter urges VBA to comply with VAOIG recommendations to enhance oversight measures and pursue the recoupment of VA benefits from predatory fiduciaries.
“By failing to fulfill its legally required oversight responsibilities, VBA is placing the health and financial well-being of our most vulnerable veterans – and their hard earned benefits – at intolerable risk,” the senators wrote. “It is unconscionable that VBA has been repeatedly warned of these risks and has yet to effectively implement oversight measures to prevent unscrupulous actors from exploiting veterans.”
“Despite attempts at reform, the timeliness for field examinations has regrettably worsened, which contributes to fiduciary fraud, the wrongful appointment of fiduciaries, and temporary termination of benefit payments,” the senators wrote. “Field examinations and fund misuse response are crucial components of VBA oversight of the Fiduciary Program, and it is essential that these actions are conducted in a timely manner…We urge VBA to continue efforts to clarify these policies and ensure that debts are established to recoup all misused funds by abusive fiduciaries.”
Full text of the letter can be viewed HERE.