Veterans’ Applications Hidden In Storage Unit - Diverse Health

Higher Education News and Jobs

Veterans’ Applications Hidden In Storage Unit


by Alanna Durkin Richer, Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va.— Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring is seeking a criminal investigation after applications for veterans’ benefits were found in a storage unit belonging to a former state employee who was fired last year for mishandling records, officials said.

Between 20 and 30 boxes of documents were recovered from the unit belonging to the ex-employee for the Virginia Department of Veterans Services, who helped veterans apply for benefits with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, said Tom Herthel, director of benefits for the Virginia department on October 7. The storage unit contained applications for VA benefits — which include medical and personnel records — and Herthel said it appears that at least some of the applications were never actually filed.

“I am deeply concerned about the veterans whose records have been mishandled, and I have directed my team to use all available resources to identify these men and women and ensure that they receive the benefits and care that they are due,” Virginia Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs John Harvey said in a statement.

Herthel said he could not release the name of the former employee, who worked for the agency’s veterans benefits office at the Richmond’s McGuire VA Medical Center. She was fired after working nearly four years in the department when unfiled claims were found in her office in 2015, Herthel said.

Officials say they’re still trying to determine how many veterans may have been affected. The Virginia Department of Veterans Services has since moved to an electronic claims filing system, which means they can track all records to ensure they are actually filed.

Michael Kelly, a spokesman for the attorney general, said Herring has asked Virginia State Police to open a criminal investigation into the matter. Corrinne Geller, a state police spokeswoman, said Friday that they are reviewing the request.
The documents were found when the former employee’s storage unit was seized for nonpayment. The stuff in the storage unit was auctioned off and the person who bought it found the records and immediately notified law enforcement, Herthel said.

In 2014, scandals over long wait times at the VA led to the ouster of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and a $16 billion law overhauling the labyrinthine veterans’ health care system and making it easier to fire VA employees accused of wrongdoing.
Officials found workers at a Phoenix VA hospital falsified waiting lists while their supervisors looked the other way or even directed it, resulting in chronic delays for veterans seeking care. Similar problems were soon discovered nationwide.


Print Friendly

Related Articles

Digital Therapeutics: App-Based Healthcare Is the Future Last month, healthcare startup Omada Health secured a $50 million C round led by major insurer Cigna, which brings the 5-year-old company’s total funding to over $127 million. That kind of nine-figure investment isn’t unusual for a company with the ...
Bill Would Expand Care for Veterans Republican Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson has proposed legislation to increase access to privatized medical coverage for American veterans paid for by the federal government. Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson, who chairs the committee, looks to accompli...
Nevada Moves to Combat Pot Bottleneck CARSON CITY, Nev. —- Nevada has moved to reduce supply problems at recreational marijuana stores that have faced overwhelming demand for newly legal pot and the possibility of their shelves going empty. Regulators approved emergency rules that wo...
Panel Asks FDA to Review Opioid Safety The U.S. Food and Drug Administration should review the safety and effectiveness of all opioids, and consider the real-world impacts the powerful painkillers have, not only on patients, but also on families, crime and the demand for heroin. That's...