General United States

Corruption in the VA Leadership and $10 Million Bonus

The House Committee on Veterans Affairs hearing was held for two hours on the House floor on June 4 due to the “bonus scandal” involving the leadership of various VA branches. At the hearing, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) general investigators announced that 10 million tax dollars had been granted to dozens of senior-level leadership personnel pockets improperly as an award for the year 2023 incentive payments.

According to the hearing, House Veterans Affairs Committee officials had requested that Under Secretary for Health Shereef Elnahal and Secretary for Benefits Joshua Jacobs be fired due to two officials being at the center of the bonus scandal issues their roles in the mistakes made. The Secretary of VA, Mr. McDonough said at the hearing that he had steps taken to correct them and it has rescinded about 9 million back from the payment.

The hearing also revealed the failure of leadership of the Department of VA and the lack of oversight and accountability within the VA’s top leadership. This lack of oversight and accountability at the VA is reflected in the recent all-employee survey (AES) scores, which ranked the Board of Veterans’ Appeals at 444/459 which is in the same group as the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Not surprisingly, Biden-appointee chairman, Jaime Areizaga-Soto and Vice Chairman Kenneth Arnold are directly responsible for these abysmal AES scores. They both got self-served incentives. Secretary McDonough continues to ignore multiple requests by AFGE to hold these “leaders” accountable. Mr. Areizaga-Soto has been under constant criticism by the Board’s employees and the Union for the exaggeration of his resume, his general incompetency, and his selfishness.

Not only this “bonus scandal”, but also the recent “sex scandal” aren’t clear answers to the public, still, the high-ranking leaders getting bonuses and facing no consequences does not look good for the Department and its promise of serving the Veterans.

Most attorneys worked until midnight and had no break on the weekend to better serve veterans who had fought for this country and didn’t get any promotions or raised wages they promised in the first place. The Board recently lost an arbitration for changing its rules to deny attorneys promotions and putting well-performing attorneys on performance improvement plans.

At the hearing, some of the lawmakers demanded the Secretary of the VA step down due to his ignorance of the law and accountabilities as head and fire the personnel who made mistakes that might have been intentionally performed.

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