Press Releases

Roe Investigates Veterans Benefits Administration

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Washington, March 3, 2009 | comments
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Congressman Phil Roe, M.D. (TN-1) gave the following opening statement in the Joint Committee Hearing on Document Mishandling and Shredding at the Department of Veterans Affairs:

“Thank you for yielding, Mr. Chairman.

“I would like to start by saying that I am looking forward to working with the members on both of Subcommittees here today, and particularly with you, Mr. Mitchell, and the other members on the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations as the Ranking Member of the subcommittee. I understand that you and my predecessor, Ms. Ginny Brown-Waite, had a good working relationship on this committee, and I hope that we can continue in that vein as we conduct oversight on issues relating to the Department of Veterans Affairs, and work to assist those who sacrificed so much for the good of our country, our nation’s veterans.

“The issue at hand, document mishandling and shredding at the Department of Veterans Affairs is one of great concern. When these issues came to the forefront of our scope back in early October of last year, during an investigation by the Office of the Inspector General showed that documents necessary for processing claims were found in shredding bins at several Veteran Benefits Administration (VBA) facilities. Further issues arose from documents with adjusted ‘date-of-claims’ which initiated a request by Ranking Member Buyer on October 14, 2008 for an OIG investigation into the issue.

“Our nation’s veterans deserve better than this. The mishandling of their claims documents is inexcusable. The VA is responsible for assuring our nation’s veterans that they will be given every opportunity to submit their claims, and have their complete claims file reviewed in a timely manner. I appreciate that former Secretary Peake took immediate action to address these issues, and I look forward to hearing from today’s witnesses on what further actions have been taken to rectify this situation.

“Again, thank you Mr. Chairman, and I yield back.”

Witness Testimonies

Panel 1:
Kerry Baker, Assistant National Legislative Director, Disabled American Veterans
Ronald B. Abrams, Joint Executive Director, National Veterans Legal Services Program
Kathryn A. Witt, Co-Chair, Government Relations Committee, Gold Star Wives of America, Inc.
Geneva Moore, Senior Veterans Service Representative, Veterans Benefits Administration Regional Office, Winston-Salem, NC, on Behalf of the American Federation of Government Employees

Panel 2:
Belinda J. Finn, Assistant Inspector General for Auditing, Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Accompanied By:
James O'Neill, Assistant Inspector General of Investigations, Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Panel 3:
Michael Walcoff, Deputy Under Secretary for Benefits, Veterans Benefits Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Accompanied By: 
Bradley Mayes, Director, Compensation and Pension Service, Veterans Benefits Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans
Diana M. Rubens, Associate Deputy Under Secretary for Field Operations, Veterans Benefits Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans

For more information on this hearing, please visit the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs website at www.veterans.house.gov.

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Tags: Veterans