Sunday, March 13, 2016
by Michael Connelly
The federal assault on America’s heroes not only seems to have no end, but is apparently accelerating. It all amounts to downright theft. Veterans are not only having their Constitutional rights to keep and bear arms, to have due process, and to be free of illegal searches and seizures, but also having their dignity, their money, and even their lives stolen.
The source of much of this abuse is in the fiduciary program that was set up many years ago to assist elderly veterans suffering from dementia or other disabilities that made it difficult or impossible for them to handle their own financial affairs. The VA would appoint someone to handle their financial affairs for them. At the beginning, the person appointed was usually a financial member, but when the VA started paying the fiduciary five percent of the veteran’s benefits as a fee for services rendered the program became an opportunity for professional fiduciaries, either individuals or organizations, to make some serious money. This became a recipe for abuse and theft.
The latest abomination occurred right here in Texas where a former San Antonio nurse named, Cornelia Hurling, was sentenced to 14 months in Federal prison, after she confessed to stealing over $140,000 from numerous veterans as she was serving as their fiduciary. This would seem like a good thing, but it is literally just the tip of a very large iceberg.
The Fiduciary program in the VA is administered by 6 Fiduciary hubs each of which covers multiple states. In 2014 the independent Office of the Inspector General of the VA found that almost one million dollars had been stolen from veterans by fiduciaries in the Indianapolis hub that covers 13 states. Other VA OIG investigations have uncovered millions more missing from veteran accounts in the other hubs. The investigations also found that the required audits of the fiduciaries were not being done by the VA, and this allowed the thefts to continue for years.
In addition, OIG investigations uncovered the fact that people with gambling additions, and convicted felons were being appointed as fiduciaries for vulnerable veterans. Also, I have been reporting for several years that veterans are being declared incompetent without any professional evaluations being doing by psychiatrists or psychologists, but by untrained bureaucrats, and that veterans are being declared incompetent because they let their spouses pay the family bills, or they have their bills automatically paid by the banks out of the veteran’s checking account. Then this phony declaration of incompetence is used to deny veterans and their family members from purchasing or owning firearms. All of this has been confirmed by independent investigations.
To show you how bad it has gotten, last year the United States Justice Foundation was contacted by a 93 year old World War II veteran who had throat cancer, but had been unable to get treatment from the VA so he was paying for his treatment with his VA benefits. Then he received a visit from a VA employee who informed him that he had been declared incompetent to handle his own financial affairs. He argued that he paid his own bills, and did not need fiduciary.
The VA employee insisted and a few months later the veteran stopped getting his checks. Calls to the VA got no results, and it took almost six months for the veteran to learn that his checks were being deposited in a bank account in another state; an account in the name of the wife of the full time VA employee who was not supposed to be a fiduciary in the first place. Not only was this a theft from a veteran, but one who was fighting a serious illness.
As has been the case with VA employees who falsified records of hospital and clinic admissions to cover up the fact that veterans were being denied the treatment they needed, and were entitled to, and in some cases dying because of this, there have been few people fired by the VA. In addition, even when there are outright criminal acts there have been few prosecutions.
The facts are clear; while there are many dedicated employees working in VA facilities around the country some of the leadership in the VA, protected by a corrupt President and his cohorts is not only allowing theft and corruption to run rampant, but using the VA as a political tool to push the administration’s agenda of disarming the American people, beginning with the veterans.
While there have been problems with the VA for decades our investigations over the last three years have led me to the conclusion that since Obama took office these activities of the VA have not been due to incompetence. Instead, it has been deliberately used to demoralize our military and our veterans by using them as political pawns, to further the agenda of a socialist President.
In my view, what is happening to our veterans, from the theft of their money and denial of their Constitutional rights, and what amounts to the deliberate murder of thousands of them constitutes a continuing and unrelenting act of domestic terrorism perpetrated at the highest level of our own government. It must be stopped and God willing the American people will elect a new President that will clean house in the VA and prosecute all of those who have done this to our veterans, including those in high office.