ST. LOUIS - Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO) plans to demand an audit into the Missouri Veterans Commission for what she calls an egregious failure to help veterans.
Wagner's investigation found at least two cases where the same employee failed to file benefits claims on behalf of local veterans. After requesting a full review, Rep. Wagner says Commission Director Larry Kay hasn't answered whether these were isolated incidents or whether there was a systemic problem affecting hundreds of Missouri veterans.
One of the cases involved Ray Anderson, a World War II veteran living at the St. James nursing home.
St. James is one of seven nursing homes run by the Missouri Veterans Commission. As part of the Commission's service, employees are assigned to help veterans and their families navigate the complicated process of filing claims with the Veterans Administration.
The employee assigned to the Andersons promised to have the claims filed by the end of November 2011. But, three months later, the VA couldn't find a case number. Anderson's son asked why, and he was reportedly told the process could take several years. It turns out, the Missouri Veterans Commission employee, never filed the paperwork.
Through tears, Dave Anderson said, "Why? Why would someone do this?"
"This is egregious as far as I'm concerned. These vets who have served our country deserve the highest amount of respect. It's time for a full audit of the Missouri Veterans Commission," said Rep. Wagner.
Ray Anderson would have been entitled to those benefits. It was money he earned serving our country and it was money he needed. He died last year waiting for the benefits no one bothered to file.
Inside his folder at the nursing home were the documents filled out and signed but never sent.
A spokesperson with the Missouri Veterans Commission sent a statement saying only "The Missouri Veterans Commission's Veterans Service Program's 44 Veterans Service Officers file approximately 14,000 claims each year assisting Veterans in receiving the benefits they earned. If a complaint, concern, or inquiry comes to us we immediately investigate and take appropriate action to resolve the situation."
The spokesperson said the employee responsible is no longer working for the agency.
Rep. Wagner said that's not good enough and wants the entire organization audited to see if other veteran's benefits are now at risk because no one bothered to file claims.