Veterans Group Calls for Inquiry After Report Charges Mismanagement
WASHINGTON – Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America called on Congress and the Inspector General of Veteran Affairs to look into VA oversight of state-run veterans homes in the wake of a ProPublica investigation casting light on the grave consequences of a reportedly lax inspection regimen.
The piece, written by ProPublica’s David Armstrong, found that state-run veterans homes, which have suffered tremendously during the current coronavirus pandemic, routinely fall between the regulatory cracks.
According to Armstrong’s reporting, “the VA disclaims responsibility for them, and its inspections have overlooked issues later identified by other investigators.”
“In the military, we are trained to lead from the front and take responsibility in tough times,” said Jeremy Butler, CEO of IAVA.
“We know the VA does not own this entire crisis, but the department appears to be bending over backwards to wash its hands of this when it has a very important and clear leadership role in keeping veterans safe in state-run homes,” Butler said. “The Secretary should lead on this grave issue now and Congress and the VA Inspector General should leave no stone unturned in its oversight of this tragedy.”
The report outlined disturbing accounts of understaffing and differences in the rigor of inspections of state-run soldiers’ homes between those done by the VA and those performed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The VA reportedly identifies far fewer deficiencies in care than those done by CMS. Although the VA does not directly manage the approximately 150 state-run homes that care for more than 20,000 veterans, they have the responsibility of regularly inspecting the facilities and funding care.
Four of the homes have had 50 or more deaths, and 73 deaths from the coronavirus have occurred at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home in Massachusetts alone, Armstrong wrote.
Union officials pointed to staffing shortages and mismanagement by the home as a cause of the spread of COVID-19 at the facility.
“These are strong accusations, that if true, should bring very tough consequences,” Butler said.
“To care for those who have borne the battle is a paramount responsibility, and VA should be using all the tools in its toolbox to carry out that duty regardless of whether those veterans are in federal or state run facilities.”
In The News
As the U.S. struggles to fight off a lingering coronavirus pandemic, the full impact of the crisis on the lives of Americans is just starting to come into view. But for the veteran community -- as for many other groups -- the crisis has already taken... Read More
WASHINGTON - America's veteran population is changing, with its overall size declining, the number of women in its ranks on the rise, and a generation of Post 9-11 vets who are far more likely to suffer from a service-connected disability than their predecessors. Those are primary... Read More
Congressional leaders who oversee the budget for the Veterans Administration are making a Memorial Day push for the removal of gravestones containing swastikas and praise for Adolf Hitler from veterans’ cemeteries. Outrage over the symbols representing Nazism is bipartisan. The push for action comes from U.S.... Read More
After an effort to add the names of 74 sailors to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial hit a roadblock in the Senate, supporters of inscribing the names of the men who died aboard the USS Frank E. Evans are continuing to press for their inclusion. In a... Read More
WASHINGTON - At a time when experts instruct at-risk persons to avoid large crowds and to social distance to protect their health, the United States’ electoral process is getting more attention than ever. Senator Jon Tester, D-Mont., Senator Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., and Representative Jason Crow, D-Colo.,... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate’s top Democrat on Sunday called on the Department of Veterans Affairs to explain why it allowed the use of an unproven drug on veterans for the coronavirus, saying patients may have been put at unnecessary risk. Sen. Charles Schumer of New York said the... Read More