Currently, there is approximately a two year delay for veterans attempting to obtain a Veterans’ Benefit decision at the VA Regional Office (RO) in Nashville. An investigation by the VA Inspector General revealed that this delay is attributable in part to abuse by Nashville-based RO officials. VA employee Richard Moore and his supervisors violated numerous rules, resulting in failing to process an undetermined number of veterans’ claims. The unfortunate result is that the delay and backlog create tremendous hardships for many of our Tennessee veterans.
The Inspector General’s audit revealed that the Moore and two of his supervisors, Jonah Czerwinski and J. Allan Bozeman, broke multiple rules and failed to supervise VA employee Moore. This employee, at his own discretion, traveled to Washington every other week without any supervisory approval and accrued approximately $28,560.94 in travel expenses, many of which were unauthorized. In addition to his misuse of official time and misuse of government funds, Moore’s absence from Nashville resulted in a backlog of disability claims. At one point, Moore received a 100 percent rating from his supervisors despite the fact that he was not performing his job and was promoted and transferred to Washington in July 2013. In the wake of the investigation, the supervisors have since resigned, and Moore has been placed on indefinite administrative leave.
Secretary Shinseki and Congress need to conduct a top-to-bottom review of the Nashville RO to end the delays that occur in processing claims and to formulate an immediate plan to expedite the delayed claims. While U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, has reached out to Secretary Shinseki requesting an explanation for not firing Moore, it is unclear what disciplinary action will be taken and what will be done with the outstanding veterans’ claims. The bottom line is that Tennessee veterans deserve better treatment by the VA and deserve to have their claims timely processed. How much more abuse of the system exists is unknown, and something needs to be done to uncover any additional oversight and misuse of government funds.