Non-profit: The VA is NOT Underfunded
A nonprofit organization that provides services for homeless veterans contradicts reports that the United States Department of Veterans Affairs is being underfunded.
Jonathan Bodwell, a board member for the Center for American Homeless Veterans, said the nonprofit group believes the VA is wasting billions of dollars on services that could be spent helping veterans.
"VA is owed billions by private insurance companies, but due to lack of oversight at the VA, they haven't properly billed these companies to get their money from the private insurers that a lot of vets pay for. The other main problem with VA is that they don't negotiate a lot in their procurement, which could save billions," said Bodwell.
According to Bodwell, the VA is wasting money buying things by not competitively bidding on them.
The Center for American Homeless Veterans wants the government to take better care of its veterans and make them a priority, especially homeless vets.
"A lot of veterans are homeless because of physical disabilities, skills are not translated, mental disabilities. There are a lot of vets with PTSD [Post-traumatic Stress Disorder]," Bodwell said. He pointed out that there are 22 veteran suicides a day on average, adding that figure is most likely under-reported because if a veteran does not leave a suicide not, VA does not count it as a suicide.
There are roughly 120,000 homeless veterans in America, and according to Bodwell, it's an unfortunate problem that the government has not worked harder to get things done for them.
"It takes on average 275 days to process a disability claim. You can imagine, especially for a veteran with PTSD, who's going through some problems, this can lead to a lot of other things; homelessness, suicide, etc.," said Bodwell.
The Center for American Homeless Veterans is advocating a Veterans Bill of Rights, especially during the Presidential campaign season, according to Bodwell.
"Especially with these wars we've had with Afghanistan and in Iraq, we have tons more combat veterans who are coming back with issues and who need the support of the nation that they fought to defend," Bodwell said.
Congressional hearings underway on Capitol Hill are being held to determine whether the VA is abusing the current procurement system.
"As there is with any big Bureaucracy, there is waste. There is money that can be moved around without necessarily needing that much more money to do what they need to do," said Bodwell.
96 members of Congress have affirmed the Veterans Bill of Rights, including New Jersey's 3rd District Republican Representative Tom MacArthur, according to Bodwell.
"The more Congressman and Senators that get behind this, the more that are pushing for this, and the more this becomes a hot button issue with the coming Presidential Election, hopefully the more that will be done for vets," added Bodwell.