Johnson Takes Aim at Abuses of Veterans

Ohio Congressman Bill Johnson recently introduced legislation to take a bite out of predators taking advantage of disabled veterans.

The bill, HR 5948, will put an end to unethical practices of fiduciaries charged with managed pension funds of disabled veterans. It is called the “Veterans Fiduciary Reform Act of 2012.”

“For too long, VA fiduciaries have abused the system and subverted the rights of the veterans they were entrusted to protect, in some cases for personal gain,” Johnson said. “This program has long been in need of reform. Our veterans and their families must trust VA and its agents to act lawfully and ethically on their behalf, and yet time and again, that trust has been broken, despite VA’s claims to the contrary.”

This bill will mandate background and credit checks for all fiduciaries. It will also institute an appeals process and a layer of protection for instances of malfeasance.

According to, the bill only has an 11% chance of being inacted for the following reasons:

  • A cosponsor is the chairman of a committee to which the bill has been referred. (+8%)
  • 3-5 cosponsors serve on a committee to which the bill has been referred. (+2%)
  • There is at least one cosponsor from the majority party and one cosponsor outside of the majority party. (+2%)
  • The sponsor is a member of the majority party. (+1%)
  • Just 4% of all House bills in 2009-2010 were enacted.

Hopefully this attempt to improve the fiduciary program will not end with mere legislation. VA’s communication to veterans about the fiduciary program is lacking.

VA Fiduciary url:

The VA webpage on the fiduciary program is unclear and poorly written. While the program boasts an annual benefit payout of over $3 billion, the web explanation for veterans is so poor, it is no wonder veterans and their families are being taken advantage of: they cannot get an easy explanation of the facts.

Meanwhile, other webpages on the VA website have received a contrary treatment. For example, the page dedicated to PTSD has seen a great deal of design and redevelopment. This leads me to conclude that the VA will put money only toward popular issues but negligent other portions of its website.

Here are comments on the VA Fiduciary program from two congressmen, Congressmen Jeff Miller and Congressman Phil Roe:

[quote] As Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, I am dedicated to ensuring VA is responsible to the very people it serves,” stated Rep. Jeff Miller. “VA has ignored these problems for far too long and has allowed reckless behavior to pervade the system, and we have yet to see any meaningful reforms.

Therefore, the Veterans Fiduciary Reform Act will require VA to clean up its fiduciary program by implementing new accounting practices and increasing transparency to the veteran. This legislation, the result of years of oversight, will better protect our veterans and their earned benefits.

Too many veterans have been poorly treated under this program by the very people entrusted to protect them,” said Rep. Phil Roe. “It is clear that VA has lost control of the program, its employees, and there is no accountability or leadership. This begs the question, who is manning the ship?

We will not, and cannot, tolerate any veteran being mistreated by VA-appointed fiduciaries. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House and Senate to pass this legislation quickly and begin enactment immediately.[/quote]

Source: Portsmouth Daily Times

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