Stars and Stripes interviewed one veteran about his experience:
Mike Rieker, a 69-year-old Vietnam War Navy veteran who was among those wrongly declared dead, said his situation turned serious when he realized he might go weeks or more without a benefits check while the situation was ironed out.
“I spent five minutes arguing on the phone with a lady about me being dead,” he said with a wry smile at a news conference Tuesday. Eventually, “I started looking around the house for things to sell,” he added.VA blames the trouble on human error and computer problems. How many millions will Sloan Gibson ask Congress for to fix this problem?
VA blames the trouble on human error and computer problems. How many millions will Sloan Gibson ask Congress for to fix this problem?
Over the past 18 months, 115 veterans who are most certainly alive were wrongfully declared dead by VA. Following the premature death determinations, VA would swiftly discontinue the veteran’s benefits. As a result, many veterans would go without benefits until they successfully argued with VA about their own beating heart.
VA POLICY FIX
The new VA policy will include VA sending a letter to the family seeking a confirmation that the veteran is in fact dead if the agency believes the veteran might be dead. Should the VA not hear back from either the family or the veteran, they will cancel the benefits. If there is a mistaken premature cancelation, VA will give the veteran 30 days to appeal the cancelation.
I an think of a thousand ways this could go wrong, but at least the agency is trying to move forward on this small but embarrassing problem.