Target: Robert A. McDonald, Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Goal: Stop alleged VA executive abuse of power and misuse of taxpayer money.
The Veterans Health Administration is embedded in yet another scandal, this time uncovering severe misuse of taxpayer money and abuse of position. Senior executives reportedly coerced managers to transfer so they could take over the positions, keeping their salaries while decreasing their job responsibilities and receiving substantial relocation bonuses in the process. The VA’s benefit office has been cited as the most troubling office in the nation and the recent investigation into it is the fourth of it’s kind during the past year.
The VA’s Philadelphia Director of the Benefits Office Diana Rubens received $300,000 as reimbursement for relocating about three hours away to be closer to family, according to a recent investigation. This was after she created a vacancy for herself by transferring the former director against his will. Rubens kept her salary of $181,497, despite her responsibilities reducing to overseeing fewer employees at lower pay levels.
Kimberly Graves allegedly received similar benefits for relocating, using the same manipulation and coercion to gain herself a position with fewer responsibilities. The VBA allows relocation funds for hard-to-fill vacancies, but since Rubens and Graves created the position for themselves and the former managers of these positions had no intention to leave, this case is far from meeting the criteria. Rubens’ and Graves’ boss, the Undersecretary for Veterans Benefits Allison Hickey, reportedly encouraged these schemes.
The Veterans Benefits Administration has spent over a million dollars in the past two years between salary increases and relocation expenses for 23 senior executives. The reassignments and transfers have allowed the administration to circumvent the pay freeze and bonus ban imposed by the White House. The Deputy Inspector General who investigated and launched this case said the VA’s relocation program is an excuse to justify annual salary increases to relocated senior executives.
As of June, the VA is facing a $2.6 billion budget shortfall. Veterans should not have their needs neglected so greedy executives can incentivize themselves. Urge the VA to fire those involved in the scandal if they’re found guilty, recover the moving expenses and provide more stringent oversight.
Dear Mr. McDonald,
The VA has a long and shameful history of misallocated funding, outstanding claims for disability benefits, falsified records and unjustified moving expenses for senior executives. The recent scandal involving executives coercing managers and manipulating the moving expense system for personal benefits is yet another example of the VA’s corruption. This case should be investigated thoroughly to ensure this severe misuse of taxpayer money doesn’t happen again.
The VA is an agency that was established to help veterans. Yet our veterans are lacking medical and psychiatric care. Executives who already receive generous salaries are allegedly allocating funds that should be used to help veterans on themselves as loophole bonuses. The recent scandal shows the severity of untrustworthiness in the agency’s leadership.
The Veteran Benefit Administration has had multiple investigations into alleged mismanagement of funds, calling for a change in administration and policy. Please ensure that those at fault in the most recent scandal are fired, the moving funds are recovered and relocation funding isn’t spent for individual benefits in the future.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: OskNe