As the nation celebrates Memorial Day by reflecting on the service of veterans throughout our history, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has come under renewed criticism for a number of failures in its mission to provide care and benefits to veterans.
As reported by Just The News, the VA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released several reports and memorandums just before Memorial Day. VA Inspector General Michael Missal submitted his semi-annual oversight report to Congress, declaring in the attached cover letter that “OIG staff have identified significant deficiencies” within the VA.
“Our oversight efforts spotlighted in this report help illustrate how weaknesses in any of these areas of accountability can negatively affect veterans and can waste or misuse taxpayer dollars,” Missal added.
One example given in the report deals with “concerns revealed across four prior oversight reports about [Veterans Benefits Administration] decision-making on claims-processing issues that adversely affected some beneficiaries.” These included would-be recipients being denied their VA benefits due to being required to pass unnecessary exams.
“Veterans are still being required to attend unwarranted medical re-examinations for disability benefits,” the report explains. “Unwarranted reexaminations are a waste of appropriated funds, could cause undue hardships for veterans, and reduce the efficiency and timeliness of claims processing. The OIG found VBA did not require staff to cite objective evidence for why reexaminations were needed per policy.”
Another issue highlighted in the report is insufficient security at VA facilities, with the report declaring that “persistent police staffing shortages and growing concerns about risks to VA staff, patient and visitor safety at healthcare facilities led to an OIG review of observed security and incident preparedness conditions.”
In a review of 70 different VA facilities, the OIG “identified multiple security vulnerabilities and deficiencies, most notably security staffing shortages that contributed to the lack of a visible and active police presence.”
The VA has long been criticized as one of the most inefficient federal agencies, notorious for long wait times and being slow to deliver benefits to veterans in need. Although the VA’s performance was largely turned around under the Trump Administration, reaching a record high approval rating of 90 percent during the tenure of Secretary Robert Wilkie, the OIG’s latest report suggests that many of those problems have returned. The final report listed a total of over 150 recommendations from prior reports that remain unsolved by the VA.