Deceitful Department of Veterans Affairs’ Body Count on the Rise

No one can deny the obscene rates of poverty, homelessness, unemployment and suicide that exist among the US veteran population. However, these problems are much greater than the federal government cares to admit. In fact it seems Congress may be giving the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) leadership a pass on lying about the scope of our governments VA’s failures and the consequences for US veterans.

Recent findings of Veteran Warriors—a veteran advocacy group—raise serious questions for our President, our Congress and more importantly the American people.

A Veteran Warriors review of the last four years of DVA Monday Morning Workload Reports (MMWR) shows DOVA leadership—specifically Secretary Eric Shinseki and Undersecretary Allison Hickey—gave false and misleading testimony about the reduction of VA claims backlogs. For those unfamiliar with a MMWR, it is described by the Department of Veterans Affairs as a weekly compilation of performance measures for the processing of Disability, Pension and Education benefits.

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This chart is a summary of DVA Monday Morning Workload Reports (01/04/2010 – 02/10/2014).

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On October 8, 2013, DVA Secretary Shinseki and Undersecretary Hickey gave testimony to a Congressional oversight committee seeking information on the VA Transformation Plans progress in reducing claims backlogs.

Secretary Shinseki stated the following:

“…We have brought down the backlog by over 30 percent or 190,000 claims since March…. Between March and September, VBA reduced the claims backlog from a high point of 611,000down to 418,000 – a drop of approximately 31 percent.”

Undersecretary Hickey offered the following statement:

“My testimony today will focus on how execution of our Transformation Plan has decreased the backlog… Inventory: Down from peak of 611,000 in March 2013 to 392,000 – a decrease of 219,000 or 36 percent…”

It appears our federal government does not read its own VA Disability Compensation Inventory Statistics.

How else can they explain the gross misrepresentations made by Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki during Congressional oversight hearings? Moreover, under current US law these statements amount to crime—often committed and rarely discussed in Washington—perjury.

To quote House oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, “Witnesses who purposely give false or misleading testimony during a congressional hearing may be subject to criminal liability under Section 1001 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code, which prohibits ‘knowingly and willfully’ making materially false statements to Congress.”

Americans have grown to accept the unhealthy appetite for lying in Washington, a practice that is now killing off thousands of our veterans annually through suicide and untreated illness.

The next time you hang your flag in support of those that have fought for us, think about this fact:

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the total number of accrued veterans claims—the total number of veterans claims where by a veteran has died before the claim was approved—has increased from 2,874 in 2010 to 14,669 as of last week. That represents a 700% increase.

Much like perjury, I do not remember anyone being asked about that statistic during oversight hearings. I wonder if Americans care anymore.

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