I currently work for the VA and issue travel vouchers to veterans for reimbursement for travel to the hospital or classes we provide. I have seen the same veterans everyday show up as if it is their place of employment. The problem I see is that there are veterans that are at zero percent service connected and receiving VA benefits at the same level as those that are 100%. They do this because they state that their family income is below a certain amount. I have also had retired members from the military come in to receive the travel reimbursement and state that their income is less than $10,000. How is this possible?
It is my belief as well as others that those veterans that attend group meetings should not receive travel reimbursement for these meetings as it is provided as a free service through the VA. Yes, they should receive travel reimbursement if they see a doctor, but not for a group meeting. It is my opinion that this is a way for veterans to use the VA as a steady source of income. I have veterans attending classes everyday and coming from as far away as 100 miles. In the last week, I have kept a record of how much is spent just for group reimbursement and it has amounted to about $1,100 per day or $220,000.00 per year based on 200 days. Of course, some veterans do not collect travel reimbursement on the day that they attend the class, therefore, the above amount is very likely much higher. I believe there are about 150 hospitals in the VA system. We are a small hospital and can you imagine what these group meetings cost nationwide There is not real fail-safe system in place to prevent this blatant fraud. I have been in touch with the Inspector General (IG) regarding this same problem and have referred instances of fraud to that agency. I believe that there should be a member of the IG at every hospital. If this is not possible, then have a member of the hospital staff trained in fraud investigation, but not under the hospital's control.