Report: Vets' disability claims ended up in shred bins
A pair of California lawmakers want to know why paperwork required to finalize veterans' disability claims ended up in a Los Angeles shredding bin.
The latest embarrassing episode for the Veterans Affairs Department comes alongside questions surrounding 240,000 deceased veterans on agency medical waiting lists and worries from senators that physician credentialing problems in Arizona may stop cancer treatments for veterans there.
Staffers for Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Calif., said officials from the VA's Inspector General's Office confirmed they found key pieces of paperwork from veterans' claims files "inappropriately placed in shred bins" at the department's Los Angeles Regional Office.
VA officials said only 10 files were misplaced in the bins, and the items would have been subject to additional review before being destroyed. They downplayed the problem as a one-time mistake from a small number of workers, not "malicious intent."
Full details of the findings won't be released for several more weeks, and the exact number of cases affected has not yet been released by the VA Inspector General's Office.
But Brownley and Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Calif., have called for hearings and an immediate review of how the regional office handles documents.
"Such misconduct could have a devastating impact on the affected veterans and their families, resulting in the loss of critical information and adversely affecting the adjudication of veteran claims," the two lawmakers wrote in a letter to VA Secretary Bob McDonald. "Simply put, this is unacceptable."