Senator Calls For Reno V-A Director's Resignation

RENO, NV - Simply put, a recent inspector general's report says Nevada veterans can expect a long wait and inaccurate outcomes when filing claims with the Reno V-A office.

Their review found more than half of disability claims they checked were inaccurately processed.

As much as 75 percent of temporary disability evaluations were incomplete or done wrong.

Nearly 30 percent of brain injury claims were inaccurately processed.
Sloppy work and poor management oversight led to delays in benefits.

Over payments when temporary disabilities were not rechecked in a timely manner and under payments of benefits paid to compensate veterans dealing with disabilities.

None of this came as news to Senator Dean Heller who told us today he's been hearing complaints and pushing for changes at the Reno office for a couple of years.

In fact, he says more than a year ago, he asked Reno office director Ed Russell what he needed to correct the problems.

"We were told at that time, a year and a half ago, they were fine. They don't need anything. No additional resources. More bodies. Everything would be fine."

"We took them at their word. Things were going to get better. It just hasn't happened."

Heller says the problem isn't with the staff, it's with management and it's time for a change.

"I'm not putting up with it any more."

Our requests for an interview or statement from Russell brought a response instead from his supervisor, Western Area Director Willie Clark saying the Reno office has made significant progress in the past year cutting its backlog by half, adding the V-A is confident of meeting the goal of a 125 day average waiting time with 98 percent accuracy by 2015.

The senator says he's waited long enough.

"I would argue that those changes should have happened two or three years ago. Why you have to wait for an Inspector Generals report to do your job is beyond what I can understand."

So, he says he's going to continue to push for Russell's resignation.

There's bipartisan concern here. Democratic Congresswoman Dina Titus is also calling for Russell's departure and Heller says he and Democratic Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania have a bill with some solutions they're trying to attach to a current Veterans Bill.

Meanwhile he says the volume of calls to his office from veterans has only increased in recent days.


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