Minnesota Congressman Asks VA to Address Problems with Veterans’ Benefits System

December 21, 2017 09:48 AM

Minnesota Congressman Tim Walz from the 1st District sent a letter to the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs today asking for answers to issues raised in a 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS investigation highlighting problems with the veterans’ benefits system.

A VA Office of Inspector General Report to Congress earlier this year, highlighted 14 cases where benefits fell into the wrong hands, totaling $988,888 including ones that went to non-veterans.

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"It highlights the problem why do we have people who exit the military, and then go through a whole new process of re verifying them, that's where the system broke down in this,” said Rep. Walz.

The OIG report mentioned a woman who claimed to have fought in Afghanistan; investigators later discovered she was incarcerated during the same period she claimed to have served.

The 24 year-veteran, Rep. Walz, asked the for the VA to explain to him the procedures in place to verify a claimant’s eligibility for benefits, and what the agency does to recoup any fraudulent payments.

Walz is pushing to have military records sent electronically when a solider enlists right to the VA, so that later, they don’t have to submit paperwork to prove their veteran status.

The committee Walz sits on, the House Veterans Affairs Committee, also asked the VA for answers to how they vet applicants in light of the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Investigation.

At last check, The VA has yet to respond to the Committee of Veterans Affairs questions.

“Tax payers willingly pay their tax dollars to take care of our veterans, but they expect them to be spent well," said Rep. Walz.

The St. Paul regional benefits office for the VA couldn’t comment on a specific case but said in a statement, "Veteran service is verified through a variety of means and is always reviewed on a case-by-case basis."

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Eric Chaloux

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