Monday, May 07, 2007

Outrageous Bonuses for VA Bureaucrats

A Paul Rieckhoff MySpace Bulletin

Dear friends,

IAVA on ABCJust when you think you've seen it all, the top bureaucrats at the VA manage to set new standards in rewarding incompetence. It turns out that back in 2005, only months after admitting that they had underestimated the cost of veterans' care by more than $1 billion dollars, VA officials involved in the foul-up each got bonuses of up to $33,000!

The total cost of these bonuses? Over $3 million dollars.

IAVA responded to this news immediately, pushing back on the VA, demanding the Senate investigate and fighting to keep this story in the press.

Click here to read yesterday's article from the Associated Press, quoting IAVA. We were also featured in ABC's coverage, which you can watch now online. You can also get the full list of bonuses here - see if someone in your area was involved.

For those of you who can't keep track of all the different ways returning troops are getting the run-around, here's a quick recap of what we saw in 2005:

  • In their budget request for 2005, VA based their numbers on the data from 2002 -- before the war in Iraq even started. As a result, they expected only 23,500 new veterans to seek services, instead of the 103,000 new veterans who returned from war needing care. So the VA asked Congress for $1 billion less than they would actually need.
  • While local facilities were flooded with new veterans and forced to ration care, VA bureaucrats spent six months telling a concerned Congress that there wasn't a problem. As late as summer 2004, VA Secretary Nicholson assured Senate leadership that "the VA does not need emergency supplemental funds in FY 2005." Eventually, the VA finally admitted the billion-dollar shortfall and requested emergency funding, but not before thousands of veterans were affected by the six-month budget crunch.

So what happens to the people responsible for this fiasco? Are they fired, or even reprimanded? No -- they are rewarded with handsome bonuses that draw millions of dollars away from crucial VA programs.

What else could the VA have done with $3 million? Here's an idea. The entire 2006 budget for the Defense and Veterans Traumatic Brain Injury Center was only $14 million dollars. And last year, they faced a staggering budget cut of 50%. Three million dollars would have gone a long way to helping the estimated 150,000 troops with a brain injury. Instead, it went into the pockets of some bureaucrats.

Stories like this show why it's so important that we work together to make sure our troops and veterans get the care and respect they have earned.

Over the next few weeks we'll be keeping you up to date on this and other issues facing the VA. Keep checking your inbox and for ways you can help, and consider inviting your friends to sign up as IAVA supporters.

Thank you for your continued support.



Paul Rieckhoff
Iraq Veteran
Executive Director/ Founder
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America