In light of recent events, we at the Veterans Education Project have become increasingly concerned about anything that threatens the credibility of the VSO community. This is a relatively small community of organizations that serves to represent some 19 million Americans who have made great sacrifices for our country. As a result, our reputation and conduct must be equally beyond reproach.
When it comes to rooting out corruption, we believe that any investigation by the inspector general (OIG) must be thorough and receive the full support and compliance of all VSOs. A recent OIG report has revealed that at least one VSO has refused to cooperate in the investigation of Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) Chairman Bogue. “According to the VA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG), three key witnesses in its review of whistleblower reports of conflicts of interest at the VA refused to answer all its questions.” writes Empower Oversight.
To help the investigation proceed and restore the name of the VSO community, we believe it is necessary to grant subpoena power to the OIG. Furthermore, we also request that both the Veterans Administration and Department of Education look into any VSO that has allegations set against it or has refused to cooperate with investigations.
This matter concerns more than the VSO community. High-ranking members of Congress, such as Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley, have expressed deep concern and are determined to get to the bottom of this matter:
“The findings from the Inspector General’s investigation are alarming, and it’s clear a senior official violated ethics rules by engaging in VA business with a company her husband worked for. I have sent four letters to the VA asking questions about this matter, but the VA has failed to produce a single relevant document or respond to any of my questions. This administration has espoused being the most transparent in history, but time and time again they’ve continued to stonewall congressional investigations. This complete and utter lack of transparency from the VA is unacceptable, and I’ll continue working to ensure those who engage in wrongdoing are held accountable,”
As the National Legal and Policy Center puts it, “A survey in 2019 found veterans themselves had mixed feelings about the VA. Just 9% said the department was doing an excellent job meeting the needs of military veterans; 37% said the VA was doing a good job. About half said it was doing only a fair (37%) or poor (15%) job. The VA administers an array of programs, with significant involvement of the VSOs, who help veterans navigate the claims and benefits system. Because the relationship is so close, VSOs run the danger of being tainted by the VA’s problems, especially if one of their own is the center of a scandal involving influence and insider connections.”
Consequently, we believe swift and determined action is necessary to help the reputations of all parties.