Update on Patty Murray’s letter

| March 15, 2012

I finally made a call to the office of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, and they coughed up the letters I’ve been asking for. It seems I was wrong when I speculated that the letters didn’t exist. This is the letter that the committee received from Shinseki;

Basically it says what she told her constituent; the DoD and DVA scrubbed the records of POWs and only found two receiving benefits who hadn’t earned them, and one of them was dead already and the other they were deciding what legal actions they were taking. They said they found 647 other phonies who weren’t receiving Federal benefits, but they don’t mention whether they were receiving state benefits. I know there are at least that many with POW license plates in South Carolina and double that number in Florida and Georgia.

I sat right behind Army Chief of Staff Shinseki when he lied to the Small Business Committee that he didn’t know the first load of black berets were coming from China, so I know what he’s capable of doing. If Veterans Affairs Director Shinseki testified to Congress that the sky is blue, I’d have to look outside.

Anyway, despite my previous claims to the contrary, it doesn’t look like Patty Murray lied.

Category: Veterans' Affairs Department

Comments (14)

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  1. NSOM says:

    Good to hear. Despite the pandering to the Progressive fringe of her party she’s usually pretty good to vets, especially us vets in Washington.

  2. When will people like that learn that the most important thing in life is trust. Once we loose that trust, you can never get it back.

  3. SIGO says:

    Good to hear that they reconciled it, but you would think this would occur at least annually?

  4. Hondo says:

    Well, well – a red letter day. A politician may have been caught telling the truth!

    Of course, it remains to be seen whether two politicians have been caught telling the truth.

  5. streetsweeper says:

    Shinseki telling the truth? Tell me it ain’t so!

  6. COB6 says:

    Notice in Shinseki’s letter the chart. According to that chart there are 10 1st Gulf War former POWs; according to the DoD there are 21. So it is NOT “consistent with DoD data”

    More to follow on this….much more!

  7. Yat Yas 1833 says:

    What’s the saying? Something about the sun shining and dog’s asses…or something like that!

  8. streetsweeper says:

    @ #7-Yat Yas…leave it to a Marine…lol!

  9. J.M. says:

    Playing devils advocate for a minute. Some of the Gulf War POWs may still be on active duty (I know of one that is a general currently serving). Wouldn’t that prevent them from being carried on the VA list?

  10. J.M. says:

    Nevermind, that letter is all sorts of jacked up. There were 3 POWs from Kosovo, not 1. They shamed my former MOS and I had to sit through a SGTs time training once about them.

  11. Old Soldier says:

    Guys,

    The numbers in the letters are those claiming VA benefits for being a POW, not the actual numbers of POWs for each conflict – that explains the VA number being lower than the actual number of POWs. ie 1 Kosovo claim vs the 3 actually “captured” and the 10 1st Gulf War POWs getting benefits vs the 21 actually held.

  12. B Woodman says:

    Ms Murrey telling the truth. . . .
    That’s one in a row. . . .

  13. Hondo says:

    Actually, JM, I think you got it right in #9. IMO, the difference lies in the different criteria and legal authorizations used by the VA and DoD regarding POW status.

    The VA will only “recognize” someone as a POW when they apply for benefits. Thus, any former POWs serving on active duty, or who have never applied to the VA for recognition (and sent the VA the required documentation to be considered POWs by the VA), won’t be counted by the VA. This could well explain the VA number being lower than the DoD count for the First Gulf War and Bosnia. But this isn’t the problem here.

    IMO, the problem is caused by the VA’s legal authority to recognize POW status that does not qualify under DoD criteria. This authority is granted by 38 USC 101(32)(b). The net result is that the VA may recognize POW status for those held by friendly or neutral nations as well as for those held by forces hostile to the US. (Shinsheki is wrong in his claim about the VA having sole authority to confer POW status during peacetime; 10 USC 1128 also gives the SECDEF that authority for those held by forces hostile to the US.) While some in this category might well qualify under common-sense criteria (the Swiss detained US personnel who ended up on their territory during World War II for the duration of the war; I’ve read accounts of one American detained by the Swiss during World War II that are pretty damned bad). However, in general I simply can’t see how most would. Being detained by friendlies or neutrals just doesn’t usually meet the common-sense criteria for being a “Prisoner of War”.

    The solution here IMO is a change in law conferring sole legal authority (for Federal purposes) to declare someone a POW on DoD, removing that authority from the VA, and requiring the VA to abide by DoD’s decision in the matter. Specifically, 38 USC 101(32)(b) should be changed to state that only POWs recognized by DoD will be granted POW status by the VA, and a clause similar to the current 38 USC 101(32)(b) should be inserted into 10 USC 1128 (which defines the POW medal and qualification criteria). This would give the SECDEF the authority to do what the VA Secretary can do now.

    Why? I simply trust DoD to do this right more than I do the VA. The VA has a piss-poor track record of preventing fraud (they also have a poor track record of approving valid claims – just not IMO as bad a track record as they have regarding rejecting frauds). And the VA actually has a vested interest in approving questionable claims. More “vets” qualified for benefits means more justification for the VA budget, whether or not those “vets” really qualify.