Then-Secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Eric Shinseki, resigned in May 2014 after a shocking season of revelations regarding Veteran deaths at the hands of VA. On October 16, 2015, VA Under Secretary for Benefits, Allison Hickey resigned in the wake of a pay fraud scandal involving senior bureaucrats Diana Rubens (pictured left) and Kim Graves (pictured right). Rubens and Graves – ironically – were put in place by Hickey in 2014 to clean up following the international news coverage of Veteran deaths and VA’s back-log of benefits claims. World-wide exposure of VA’s actions highlighted the shameful treatment U.S. Veterans suffer at the hands of the very agency that supposedly is dedicated to Veterans’ well-being.
It is no secret that corruption and nepotism are rampant within VA. This is in addition to the “garden variety” bureaucratic incompetence which plagues this agency. According to Benjamin Krause of DisabledVeterans.org, Kim Graves’ husband – former Under Secretary for the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), Mike Walcoff – arranged for Graves to receive a promotion to Director of VBA’s Eastern Area Office. Moreover, according to Krause, Walcoff then voted on bonuses both for himself and Graves. Interestingly, this “all in the family” activity didn’t go unnoticed. However, VA’s Office of Inspector General investigated nepotism allegations in the case of Walcoff and Graves…and found no wrongdoing.
Back to the pay-fraud scandal involving Graves and Rubens. The bottom line is that Graves gets to keep the $125,000 she gained as a moving incentive to run the St. Paul, Minneapolis Regional Office while Diana Rubens gets to keep her hefty $280,000 moving incentive. So much for accountability.
What does all this mean for Veterans? Basically, it means that it’s business as usual at VA in terms of protecting highly paid senior officials while denying rank-and-file Veterans any benefits. It means VA is getting away with shoveling your benefits money to its bureaucrats. Can you image what $280,000 in benefits would mean to you and your family? But, try prying that out of VA. After all, you’re only a Veteran – not a “deserving” bureaucrat.
This is Why You Need an Advocate
When dealing with VA, you need a representative who understands the agency. You need someone who truly realizes you are facing a fight with an organization plagued by corruption. You need someone who isn’t naïve. Someone who knows there actually is a conspiracy to deny you benefits. Someone who is going to take the fight right back to those Washington-based bureaucrats and make sure you receive all the benefits to which your military service and medical condition entitle you. And you need someone who realizes the badness can go way up VA’s chain of command.
Why You Need an Attorney in You Fight with VA
The most important step is realizing VA does not believe it exists to help you. Once you understand that you are in a legal and moral fight with VA, the decision to have knowledgeable legal representation is pretty straight-forward. Most people wouldn’t take on a legal battle without an attorney. Sad to say, a Veteran without an advocate can face an exhausting legal fight when trying to obtain even meager benefits from VA. It shouldn’t have to be that way, but it is. Fortunately for U.S. Veterans and their families, there has been sufficient public documentation of VA’s wrong-doing that most people understand how bad VA is and realize they need representation.
What an Attorney Can Do For You
VA is notorious for ignoring Congress, our courts, and any other type of authority. Because VA is a soulless “juristic person,” it is difficult to hold any one individual accountable for wrongdoing. That’s where an attorney is helpful. An attorney represents you. An attorney is your advocate. An attorney knows how to speak up to specific bureaucrats if they are doing you wrong. An attorney knows how to gather evidence, how to report issues to the Office of Inspector General (OIG), and how to put together your case so it’s legally sound, factual, and persuasive. An attorney does not underestimate the grit and determination required to prevail against a bureaucracy which apparently is primarily dedicated to preserving high-salaried jobs for themselves.
A Final Thought
Allison Hickey resigned after revelations that Kim Graves and Diana Rubens, two of her trusted senior officials, may have defrauded the government (that is, we, the people) by manipulating locality pay and move “reimbursements.” The OIG report detailing this story reads like a Hollywood movie script on vice and corruption. As long as the tradition of self-dealing continues at VA, you need an advocate. It would be nice if VA actually focused on helping Veterans but, until that happy day arrives, you need a personal representative who won’t quit until the mission is accomplished for you. Contact the Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C. today if VA has denied your request for benefits.
Veterans – are you receiving all the benefits to which your service entitles you? If you have doubts, there’s good news. By taking prompt, early action, you are in the best position to maintain or improve your benefits situation. DON’T WAIT. Contact the Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C. today for your FREE consultation.