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As Wounded Vets Wait for Checks, VA Workers Get $24M in Bonuses

A new report by the Veterans' Affairs Inspector General presents some very disturbing findings:

Outside the Veterans Affairs Department, severely wounded veterans have faced financial hardship waiting for their first disability payment. Inside, money has been flowing in the form of $24 million in bonuses.

In scathing reports this week, the VA's inspector general said thousands of technology office employees at the VA received the bonuses over a two-year period, some under questionable circumstances. It also detailed abuses ranging from nepotism to an inappropriate relationship between two VA employees.

In addition to outrageous bonuses, the "nepotism" from Kimberly Hefling's article refers to Jennifer S. Duncan, an employee who awarded herself a $60,000 bonus, and granted tuition financing drawn from the Department's checkbook to a number of employees, including members of her own family.  The "inappropriate relationship" refers to an employee making trips between Florida and Washington where the VA official lived, costing taxpayers $37,000.  In another instance, a part-time intern was given the pay benefits of a full-time employee. 

Investigators with the IG's office are recommending those who received tuition benefits be forced to pay them back--the largest award being $33,000.  In addition to Duncan, other high-ranking employees were awarded bonuses of $73,000, $58,000 and $59,000 between 2007 and 2008.  The article also notes that in 2007 alone, "4,700 employees were awarded bonuses, on average $2,500 each."

I wonder how many injured American veterans currently awaiting their disability checks think these employees deserved bonuses...


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