Millions of dollars worth of equipment has vanished from Department of Veterans Affairs facilities across Texas and no one has any clue where it’s all gone.
Millions in equipment went missing over a five-year period from 2010 to 2015, according to an extensive investigation from KXAN News. The property included medial equipment, TVs, cellphones and a John Deere tractor, as just a few examples.
In total, the VA in Texas is missing 4,957 pieces of equipment, which are marked lost or stolen.
“What that list shows is over the last five years, items that during our annual review process were not where they should be,” Jack DuFon, VA chief logistics officer for VISN 17, said.
VISN 17 is the VA health network for part of Texas.
The VA has maintained that the missing equipment is only a small fraction of the total equipment the department has in stock, which is about 230,000. And rather than pointing to theft, the VA said that paperwork issues are often to blame for vanishing equipment. That is, many of these items have probably been found, DuFon said, but the paperwork does not reflect that fact. DuFon noted the VA is working on improving the equipment tracking system.
At least $750,000 worth of items have been reported as stolen.
News of the investigation’s findings disturbed GOP Rep. John Carter, who regularly brings up veterans’ issues in Washington.
“That’s a lot money, that’s a lot of stealing,” Carter told KXAN News. “Stealing is punishable by the law and if it all took place in Texas, we have a place for them. But the reality is, it’s bigger than that. It’s another mismanagement situation at the VA. And that’s the real crisis at the VA.”
Concerned Veterans for America National Outreach Director Cody McGregor noted that the investigation is just another nail in the coffin in terms of the VA’s ability to steward tax dollars.
“The VA has shown time and time again it is incapable of responsibly using American tax dollars on caring properly for veterans. While the VA is off wasting millions on missing equipment, purchasing lavish artwork, and taking years to build a billion-dollar hospital, our veterans are being denied the care that they deserve,” McGregor said in a statement.
Records obtained by KXAN view Freedom of Information Act request indicate that the Dallas area lost about $3.2 million in equipment, Houston lost about $1 million and San Antonio lost approximately $1.5 million.
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