Duckworth Blew Off Depleted Uranium Exposure Task Force

Depleted Uranium Exposure

Benjamin KrauseTammy Duckworth, as director of Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA), blew off requirements to investigate the impact of possible depleted uranium exposure according to a recent state audit.

The money was apparently used for other things. Judging from the audit, it was spent on frivolous things like travel expenses and expense accounts rather than helping veterans rather than on the requirements mandated by law.

At the time, the agency was mandated to evaluate the health effects of veterans exposed to the poison under the Illinois’ National Guard Exposure to Hazardous Materials Act.. And that’s not all. A state audit found mismanagement problems doubled under her control of the agency.

RELATED: IDVA Compliance Examination

Like all good politicians, Tammy Duckworth plans to stand by her mismanagement as director of the agency. Now, she is taking that record on the road as she announced her plan to run for Senate last week.

Perhaps this is her long game to become Secretary of Veterans Affairs down the road? She certainly would fit in with that track record.

Does this record reinforce the “pro-veteran” image she has championed for so long or has she become a turncoat on veterans issues?

The Washington Free Beacon summed up the state audit:

Under Duckworth, who was director of the agency from late 2006 to early 2009, the IDVA failed to manage affairs, leading to wasteful spending and a decrease in aid to veterans, according to a compliance examination carried out by William Holland, Illinois’ auditor general.

The report, which examined a two-year span from June 2006 to June 2008, found that employees took advantage of travel expenses, lost equipment, and failed to comply with basic duties designed to protect veterans.

The report also shows the agency was less efficient under Congresswoman Duckworth. When measuring claims processed, the number decreased each year she ran the agency. Sound familiar?

The auditors also found agency employees abused their travel privileges and ran up expenses. The findings are eerily similar to what surfaced in the Federal Department of Veterans Affairs during that same time. Perhaps Duckworth was taking notes.

Here are more on the failures:

The IDVA also failed to comply with Illinois’ National Guard Veterans Exposure to Hazardous Materials Act, which requires that a task force be set up to study the health effects caused to veterans by exposure to hazardous materials and that a report be submitted to the state legislature.

Duckworth’s IDVA did not set up a task force, according to the audit. It also did not “assist eligible members or veterans in obtaining information on available federal treatment services for exposure to depleted uranium,” which is also required by the act.

The IDVA additionally failed to create a legally mandated list of honorably discharged veterans in the state who wanted to participate in volunteer programs designed to assist with post-traumatic stress disorder. It received $50,000 to create a Veterans’ Conservation Corps, but failed to establish it.

Duckworth also neglected the state’s veterans’ memorials during her years at IDVA. The IDVA’s Veterans’ Memorial Commission failed to conduct mandated studies to determine what is needed to ensure memorial preservation.

One reason for this failure could be that Duckworth failed to appoint three of the 12 members of the commission, leaving a quarter of the commission’s seats vacant during the entirety of the audited period.

So, what do you think? Does she deserve the Senate nod she is striving for?



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  1. There is a VA hospital that dropped the ball on the environmental health registry for 2 years and had a total of 240 unfinished registry exams. There needs to create a new dept to take care of the pension and claims and let the VA take care of the health and well being of our vets.

  2. This is very upsetting to me. My son, Aaron Barnes, died 4 yrs ago from cancer caused by his exposure to DU in Iraq. When he went to Iowa City VA Hospital, they denied he was exposed to anything, told him the large mass that was found was a kidney stone, and sent him home. We finally got a civilian surgeon to operate who found it was a very rare cancer. Several months later, the IL Legion Commander gave a speech on DU and used my son as an example. A friend was there and told me. I then contacted Commander Hicks and asked who told him about my son. He said someone at ICVAH had told him Aaron was the first DU patient they had treated. I confronted the hospital administrator face-to-face with the email from Comm. Hicks. She did not deny anything, only wanted to know who had given out the info. I have been writing letters for over 4 yrs to every agency and elected official that I can think of, including Rep. Duckworth. A letter to Pres. Obama resulted in an investigation of his death. The VA then reclassified his death as “service-connected” but not caused by mustard gas.???
    St. Rep. Donald Moffitt introduced a resolution, concerning DU and my son to the IL House. IL HR155. It passed. I wrote an open thank you to the newspaper which was seen by an executive producer at CBS News, who has been investigating DU for some time. She contacted me and we have exchanged several emails and I have mailed her copies of all the records I have. I am also forwarding this article to her.
    Kim Schisler

  3. Personally I can not detect gamma, beta, alpha or x radiation. But my Geiger counter can and I check my environment as it changes.

    1. Actually to prevent the VA from denying any radiation present is anything other than background this long after exposure, the test should be for the presence of U236. That is a man made isotope and only comes from the enrichment process. The DOD used this test at Jefferson Proving Ground in Indiana years ago on deer to determine how good their cleanup of the range was. They had to prove to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that they had properly cleaned it up as a part of their NRC licensing. I had received the report through FOIA. Back then, any military installation in the US that had DU present was required to have an NRC license, which included a plan to safely clean up any messes. I received several thousands of pages of that licensing and safety information in the 90s also through FOIA. That information showed the DOD was aware of the hazards of DU exposure dating back to 1958.

  4. Along with Larry, I’ve never understood veterans going after veterans. Given less than 1% of the U.S. population serves in the military and far fewer are disabled because of their service, there have to be other politicians who are more deserving of our scrutiny and criticism.

    1. Greg, I don’t disagree with going after those more deserving, except when it comes to those who have served getting in to positions supposedly to help veterans, then forgetting about us. Particularly those who have used that veteran status to get their position.
      Using this logic means nobody should have criticized Shinseki after the wait time scandal since he also was a veteran.

      1. Would love to address you by your first name, would you share it?

        I agree that veteran status alone should not equate to total immunity from scrutiny and criticism. In past elections, it’s pained me to see veterans attacking a veteran candidate over an opponent with no military service – especially on issues having to do with their service and/or international affairs, defense spending, or veterans affairs.

        The Illinois election is unique in that Tammy is running against Mark, who retired from the Navy Reserves. One could compare their service, I won’t. Maybe when both are veterans, then veteran voters have to move on to particular issues that are important to them and support the candidate who they believe will serve their best interests.

        Thanks for the response.

    2. Let’s get the stats right first. There are around 25 million veterans. The nation’s population is around 300 million. That means veterans comprise just shy of 10% of the nation’s population. 6 million veterans are classified as disabled. That equals around 2% of the American population. I have no idea where this 1% myth comes from but it is wrong.

      Personally, I think waiving the veteran flag does not make one immune from criticism when they make bad choices. Take McCain’s position against the Post 9/11 GI Bill. He opposed it because he thought too many people would take advantage of it to make themselves more productive Americans. His alternative was to keep more enlisted people uneducated and in uniform. I would rather see more educated people in uniform or out of uniform driving our local economy. McCain’s opposition was a bad call in my book and I came out against it.

      I think Duckworth should have set up the task force mandated by law to investigate the impact of depleted uranium exposure on Illinois veterans. I do not care if she is disabled. Secretary Shinseki was a disabled veteran missing one foot from Vietnam. He was responsible for not addressing the wait list that killed or harmed many veterans. I think he made some bad choices while heading the agency.

      Just because a person is a disabled veteran does not make them immune forever from making bad choices while they function as public servants getting paid by the American taxpayer to help veterans. They need to do their job well or find a new job.

      1. Ben, there are a lot of “statistics” out there that people get confused about or were just plain lied to. I am sure you heard that 99% of all statistics are made up. For instance, “the less than1% who served figure”, is usually associated with the number or military currently in uniform (and that is accurate).

        However, according to the VA, your numbers are also incorrect. There are an estimated 23,000,000 veterans (as of 1/1/2015). The current estimated US population is 324 million – or vets represent around 6.7%. 4 million veterans are receiving disability compensation. Out of those 4 million, 449,000 are totally disabled and another 301,000 are receiving pensions.

        Over the next 15 years, the veteran population will continue to decrease both in percentage of the population, but also in actual numbers to where in 2030 it will be about 17 million (unless there is some reason to dramatically increase the military) and due to increasing population, only 5% will be veterans.

        Total healthcare enrollment has remained fairly constant over the period of 2008 to 2013 (last year stats are available) at around 8 million veterans.

        Sources :

      2. Dan, I listed approximations since I didn’t feel the claim of 1% being veterans warranted burning too much time researching the current precise estimates. But thanks for taking the time out of your own day to research the exact numbers…

        Yes, many people confuse the 1% issue and think it represents veterans when in fact it is referencing current servicemembers in uniform. It gives veterans the false sense that we have little to no voice, which I disagree with, obviously.

  5. WTF!!…what gives here? You are impugning the integrity of a honorably discharged highly decorated Iraq War combat helicopter pilot. A woman who in service to her country lost not one but two legs.

    Lets see the evidence. Substantiate your allegations or STFU

    1. Uh, Larry, the article seems evidentiary enough, complete with links. Given she is a decorated veteran, that’s all the more reason why it is so outrageous what her tenure is like. She clearly has either forgotten what it takes for a veteran to get proper medical care, or never once set foot in a VA for medical care.
      I don’t care which side of the aisle a politician is on, I despise those veteran politicians who turn a deaf ear to their fellow vets when it comes to proper medical care for their injuries.
      Provide evidence she has done something substantive to improve that care.

    2. Larry, the text in “red” is a hyperlink. If you click on it, you will find the sources for my article including the PDF of the audit Illinois conducted. There is plenty of “evidence” showing she did not manage the agency properly, in my opinion.

    3. Larry, while Ms Duckworth is a disabled and honorably discharged veteran, it does not give her a free pass to ignore mandates and not do her job as she was charged with. People have a tendency to forget where they came from and promises made to other veterans once they get into seats of power and MONEY! We, as veterans, disabled or other wise, are not as stupid as politicians think we are. We need veterans who strive to be Statesmen in congress and not “politicians”.

  6. although not a reply regarding Ms Duckworth, it does fall in line with “basic duties designed to protect veterans.” i.e., the failure to do so for many veterans …

    [It’s time to abolish the VA and replace it with veterans insurance]

    so many of us veterans have suggested this same course of action. i hate to see it, as the VA could have been great for veterans. the article mentioned above, reiterates what many veterans & their caregivers have written to their representatives over the years. though the article left out quite a bit that is all important to veterans and their families. and that’s the issue with legal rightful medically proven disability and the crap veterans are put through for years just to obtain that.

    i don’t know if the author of the article, whom is listed as an attorney, knows the full picture, that is, the veteran medical care {and} the veteran disability issues. not so sure about the single-payer insurance model either as she suggests for veterans. i have medicare and to get the quality treatment i require for my injury/illness i’ve had to take out extra insurance and pay high premium for it. but it keeps me {not} completely dependent on the VA system who wouldn’t even diagnose me for quarter of a century.

    the author does write, “The government should give eligible veterans insurance-like benefits, enabling veterans to choose their providers and have the government pay.”. if that were to happen, i would hope civilian doctors get paid quick and a decent amount so we aren’t left with the ramifications of something like the “Choice” program. civilian doctors are already voicing their concerns of late payments and low-ball payouts via the “Choice” program. thus, good luck finding a doctor of your choice. seems veterans again are left with really not being able to see the doctor of their choice. maybe for a few veterans it is working well, but i’m speaking of veterans in general across America.

    if a system is to be implemented for veterans and the VA dismantled, veterans should get the same health care options Congress members have and other federal workers. why not, are not veterans federal employees? or, i suggest to Congress then, hire your own private military which you already do. look at the salaries and insurance benefits contractors get. i would hate to see that, as i love and respect America’s military for numerous {good-works} reasons, but no one with any power in DC has really been effective in fixing VA or holding VA people accountable. more VA whistle blowers have been squashed than say, any VA employee held accountable.

    how many of us Veterans who are on medicare, and are at/over 100% SC disability & yet every time you visit the VA they ask about your insurance so they can bill them!? they can’t bill medicare, but doesn’t that just seem strangely odd. to put it another way, if VA wants to bill our insurance for medical services why shouldn’t we be allowed to go to civilian doctors of our choice and simply bill the federal gov for it anyway? VA is already wanting to find someone else to pay besides them for our injuries/illnesses incurred in line of duty! i always found that just plain strange.

  7. This does surprise me about Tammy Duckworth. Why would she do something like that? And I always believed she’s pro veteran.

  8. Before she became a politician, she worked as a VA under-sectretary of something under Shinseki. I remember reading a VAOIG report about her 5 or 6 years ago in which she was involved in some use of government funds for personal travel or something like that. The report was heavily redacted and never saw much publicity. The report should still be in the VAOIG archives if anyone cares to look. I’m from Illinois and I will not be voting for her.

  9. Duckworth served her country and was gravely wounded. That is the only persona the voter will see. I am not saying she plays on her disability. I am saying people will discount the report by asking themselves would a person like Duckworth really do harm to another veteran. We know the answer, convincing the public will be a whole other matter.

    1. You are correct in that will be the only persona the public will see. Her fellow Democrat politicians and the media will guarantee it like they did when she ran for Congress.
      The only way this audit report gets traction is if politicians or the media in Illinois digs deeper.
      Everything about this reads just like what the national VA did regarding Gulf War illness legislation. That also required an independent oversight committee, but the VA refused to do so for years until Congress demanded it. That committee resulted in much better medical research in its first 5 years of operation than the VA and DOD had in 20 years.
      As for the DU exposure…nobody in the VA and especially the DOD wants to know. For almost 20 years the VA denied many thousands were exposed. In the 90s, there was Army Regulation 14-4 that required specific medical testing for anyone exposed to more than one tenth of a gram of DU. 697,000 pounds were fired in the Gulf War, so the regulation was ignored…as have us vets that were exposed. I was lucky enough to be one that forced the VA to provide testing. The VA said my results were higher than some of the vets in their so-called “Friendly fire” program which numbered at most 37. Those vets were those known beyond a doubt to have been exposed to DU. For years the VA pointed to that and claimed those vets suffered no health effects. Documents I received from the VA through FOIA proved they knew of cancers, kidney damage and chromosomal changes that could cause birth defects. Other documents showed by 2001, the VA couldn’t find more than half of those friendly fire vets they were supposedly “following very closely”. My own test results have been ignored by the VA since the day I learned of them.

  10. Trouble is if you’re not the ONE veteran they’re serving out of thousands, you’re screwed. As someone eligible for VA care since 1993, I am very glad I have been able to get healthcare through my job. We should CLOSE all VA medical facilities. Sell them to private sector with the staffs. Give every vet entitled to care a Federal Blue Cross card with no deductible. Then you increase the ability of the private sector, RADICALLY improve the care and get vets what they have earned.

  11. An look…with the name “DUCKWORTH”, again, another craptastic VA mismanagement example, and with THAT NAME, she fits entirely in Secretary McDonald Duck’s “Disney Model for the VA”…”Duckworth”.

    Where does this steady stream of incompetence end?!! again I have to ask, does Secretary McDonald have *any clue* of how systemic the problems are within the whole of the VA?
    Incompetence seems to be the ONLY form of “standardization” the VA actually possesses. This is really a sad state of affairs for all Veterans and I am praying hard that this 2016 Election brings ALL the VA issues to the forefront and is a major issue on the Presidential debate topics….but not mere “talking points for votes”, we are in need of ACTION, as in boots on the ground and almost a form of Marshall Law reforming this sadistic agency with a non-VA-affiliated third party investigators with absolutely NO UNION TIES, that serves as a viable control to finally end the VA OIG and VA Union’s farce of investigating themselves.
    We see how not-so-well our County’s Secret Service’s OIG is totally ineffective in bringing back the high standards of integrity the Secret Service once possessed…so goes the VA. This President is not helping this plight of Veterans AT ALL…do not let the door hit you in the arse, Pres. Obama and relatives residing in the Whitehouse for another year and half finally leave. He is more concerned now about making the police fearful in enforcing the laws…as can be seen in new video footage where the man shot in South Carolina blatantly left his car and RAN, when ordered by policeman to REMAIN in car…the vehicle came up as possibly stolen, and he had a warrant out for his arrest…what’s happening in this USA where people blatantly do not obey the police, let alone the laws…then the President and Attorney General fuel the flames….but at same time the President declined to attend an opening of the D.C. Disabled Veteran Memorial…to instead go promote his “urban” civil disobedience promotional?!!!

    Time for a President that actually CARES about Veterans and gets us completely out of these senseless wars. Rant over.

  12. This sounds like a government employee! The V.A hires people who are not qualified, a little like affirmative action. She does not deserve a higher position but deserves a lower position.

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