Documents discovered in former Department of Veterans Services employee’s possession
The Virginia Department of Veterans Services announced today that a large number of documents, including veterans’ claims, were discovered on Sept. 29 in a storage unit belonging to a former DVS employee who worked at the agency’s veterans benefits office located at Richmond’s McGuire VA Medical Center (VAMC).
DVS officials retrieved and secured the documents at the agency’s Richmond headquarters, and are now reviewing the documents so that all affected veterans can be notified and assisted with any necessary actions to ensure that their claims have been properly filed. The Attorney General notified the Virginia State Police and requested it begin a criminal investigation.
Because agency documents were comingled with personal papers and possessions, the exact number of claims records affected is not yet known, but all appear to be dated between 2011 and mid-2015, and exclusively from the DVS benefits office at McGuire VAMC.
“We are in the process of reviewing documents and determining the status of all claims as quickly as we are able,” said John Newby, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Veterans Services. “We are committed to providing additional information to impacted veterans and to the public as we determine the full scope of the situation and how many veterans may be affected.”
The former employee worked at DVS from January 2012 until August 25, 2015. Earlier in August 2015, DVS officials found unfiled claims in the employee’s office. Those claims were reviewed, and DVS contacted affected veterans to advise them and provide assistance. DVS terminated the employee at that time and has since assigned a new office manager for that location.
Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs John Harvey and Commissioner Newby identified the need to move from a paper-based system to an electronic claims filing system at the beginning of the administration. All DVS benefits offices converted to an electronic system by June 2015. Virginia was the first state to fully automate its veterans’ claims filing process. Under current practice, all claims are now tracked electronically and manually by senior managers to ensure that no documents are misplaced or lost and that all claims are filed in a timely manner.