L.A. Office of Veteran Affairs Shredded Mail Telling Veterans about Benefits

We still don’t know why Veteran Affairs shredded mail or how much mail they destroyed.

It seems that Veterans Affairs has the same relationship to veterans that the Environmental Protection Agency has to the environment. While about a third of veterans have died waiting for VA care, the new scandal involves mail that was supposed to be sent to veterans.

According to the Washington Examiner,

The VA’s Office of Inspector General said it launched an “unannounced inspection” of the Los Angeles office after hearing allegations that the VA staff there was shredding mail related to veterans’ disability compensation claims. Though the OIG said it can’t measure how often this might have happened, it did say it found some examples of mail lined up for the shredder that instead should have been opened and read.

“Although we cannot quantify or identify claims-related documents that the VARO may have shredded prior to our review, we found nine claims-related documents that VARO staff incorrectly placed in personal shred bins for non-claims related documents,” the OIG reported. “Eight of the nine documents had the potential to affect veterans’ benefits and one had no effect on the veteran’s benefits.”

The OIG said the placement of these letters in “shred bins” means that they were able to bypass the first level of control, which requires letters to be reviewed before they are shredded.

It is always needful to look at the possibility of corruption. From what I can read of this story, it may be merely negligence and incompetence. I don’t think it mattered to the people who shredded these letters that the veterans receive them or not receive them. This isn’t like making a secret list so that the official waiting list looks like it is conforming to the laws about meeting veterans’ needs.

The report said if the OIG had not stepped in, “it is likely that. … staff would have inappropriately destroyed the nine claims-related documents we found.”

It added that a records management officer was supposed to be on staff in Los Angeles to prevent this from happening, but said there was no one in that position from August 2014 until February 2015. The original records officer was promoted, and the office’s assistant director “determined that it was not necessary to fill the … position.”

Officials who tried to take over that role “lacked training regarding maintaining, reviewing, protecting and appropriately destroying veterans’ and other governmental paper records,” the report said.

The OIG said the Los Angeles office couldn’t provide any documentation at all on what documents it had shredded over the past two years.

So we will never know the full extent of the destroyed mail that was supposed to go to veterans.

And we don’t know why they allowed procedures to degenerate to the point where such gross misfeasance was possible.

Yet anyone who gets suspicious that Obamacare isn’t going to make healthcare better for the American people is treated like an idiot and an ideologue. How is that rational?