We ostracize the VA hierarchy for handing out bonuses and partying hearty in Orlando. We dress down the VA for the whole imbroglio of the backlog and its interminable delays. We laud the VSOs who wave the flag and fight for our rights in Congress. Or do they?
I was apprised of a website by one of our eagle-eyed members (anyone can be a member) about the VSOs haranguing the House Vets committee to hold the line on remuneration to lawyers. They really wanted to advocate for going back to the $10 limit established after the Civil War but they knew that wouldn’t fly. Instead, they merely put up a fuss. It appears they have ulterior motives. Several years ago I set out to find out the truth about the collusion or funding quirks that were mentioned. It was obvious that every one of the Big Six (DAV, PVA, VFW. AMLeg, MOPH and VVA) were getting free room and board at VAROs and VAMCs throughout America. What I wanted to know was who paid the freight on the wages of John Q. Service officer. I knew what the entry level wage was ($39 K) and what a supervisor with over 40 hours of 38 CFR training or ten years (whichever came first) was ( $47K). What I didn’t know was what the big cheeses in DC were pulling down. Many of them refuse remuneration. Sadly, not all.
I also always knew that the government reimbursed all the VSOs for each Power of Attorney they turned in. Many a service officer denied this but I finally squeezed it out of the Office of Veteran Affairs here in Washington. We are one of the few states with no independent State Veterans Representative outfit so they see no reason to hide it. You have to use one of the big six or search for one of the 44 other off-brand VSOs such as the Air Force Sergeants Association or the Red Cross. The lady informed me in no uncertain terms that yes, contrary to what was said, it was an unheralded fact that Veterans Service Organizations pulled in a pretty good income off this.
When combined with the dues and donations they generate, the numbers become staggering. This is where it gets disgusting. The Facebook Page “Gulf War Veterans” has revealed just how revolting these outfits are. Now, go back and remember above that they were railing against lawyers making too much dough off Vets who file claims. This was and is a blatant attempt to get more business by making remuneration so paltry as to drive lawyers out of the trade. VSOs are not lawyers. They have none on their staffs locally. They are lower than Leaglezoom.org. in the law business. They don’t charge anything which is good because you sure can’t sue them. You would think altruism drove this kindred feeling towards Vets. You would be horribly wrong.
Several months ago I wrote an article about all the Vet’s org.s who served for free which reveals a lot. The author of the info I reprinted erroneously stated that you could not retain an attorney until defeat at the BVA. That has changed now. You can lawyer up as soon as you get the necktie party at your local “Veterans Service Center”. VSOs weren’t too enchanted when that one was enacted either. Another article I read on this sordid subject was what piqued my interest when John showed up with this. If you have Valium 20mg. , take one. If you only have the blue tens, take two. Wait for it to kick in and then scroll down and be prepared for nausea.
How much would you expect the National Head of the DAV to accept above travel expenses for this rare privilege? 0$? That’s what I expected. How sacred a gift to help your fellow patriot. I guess I could see even $85 K with some medical/dental thrown in if they weren’t well-heeled. Here’s the breakdown of the top of each for all those hardworking, single malt swilling honchos who advocate for you and me. Oh, and to put it in perspective, remember VASEC Eric Shinseki gets $200 K a year. He also gets a limo, a driver and the rest of the medical/dental package.
DAV-Arthur Wilson 2011 wages $353, 519.00
VFW- Lawrence Maher 2011 wages $238, 513.00
AmLeg- Daniel Wheeler 2011 wages $232,177.00
Tanqueray ain’t cheap inside the beltway, hoss. Now, remember that’s just the head banana. Look at the rest of the wages and you’ll be a little leery about their next donation drive with the address labels. Their overhead must be zilch. Here’s the email uncensored.
Veterans this week were outraged when they learned how much DAV executives are being paid. DAV’s top three executives earned over $1 million in compensation during 2011, according to the DAV’s IRS Form 990. That revelation may force DAV from the moral high-ground it claimed recently in its quest to cap attorneys’ fees in veteran disability claims. “When I saw their pay, I immediately called the National Headquarters and asked for my dues back,” said DAV lifetime member Ron Nesler. “I assumed these guys were making a good living, but I didn’t think they were using the DAV as more of a get-rich-on-vets scheme.” Disabled American Veterans (DAV) is one of the largest veteran service organizations (VSO) in the country, along with the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and American Legion. Collectively, these organizations represent millions of members nationwide. Overall, these organizations offer great service to many veterans. They provide free help with disability claims. They provide advocacy in Washington, D.C. They also assist in the health care delivery process with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Despite these accolades, the organizations, particularly DAV, have come under scrutiny of the veteran community on social media. This week on Facebook, veterans posted data-mining results from IRS Form 990’s and other sources. The data allowed financial comparisons of most of the big veteran organizations, including compensation. The IRS Form 990 is a public document that nonprofits like DAV are required to file with the IRS every year. These documents disclose the executive compensation and relevant expenditures as well as money from memberships. This is what the veterans found. Compare the totals to Secretary Shinseki’s compensation of $200,000:
|Name of Key Individual||Total Compensation|
|DAV||2011 Form 990|
|J. Marc Burgess||$263,185|
|VFW||2010 Form 990|
|American Legion||2011 Form 990|
When You Live In A Glass House, Don’t Throw Stones
The research started on Monday when reports surfaced that DAV execs wished to limit the amount of money attorneys can make when representing veterans. Meanwhile, their own compensation was found to be shocking by many veterans. DAV has had a longstanding distain toward attorneys in the VA claims process. The organization has been a vocal opponent to the decision that allowed attorneys to get paid a reasonable fee when they help veterans during the claims appeals process against the Veterans Administration. Working against progress, DAV executives wish to limit the options available to veterans. In a DAV-type perfect world, veterans would have to return to the old pre-1988 model. Back then, only veteran service officers would represent veterans against VA lawyers and adjudicators. These service officers were generally nonattorneys. Due to gross disadvantages, many veterans were unable to get their benefits. VA exercised its traditional “splendid isolation” decision making strategy – they could do whatever they wanted with no oversight. Further, traditional veteran organizations held a monopoly in helping veterans. At that time, a law created around the Civil War restricted lawyers to only being paid $10 for their work to help a veteran get his or her benefit. The dollar amount changed very little until 2007. Once lawyers were able to get paid for their work the laws started to change dramatically in favor of veterans. Specifically, veterans benefits are now considered a Constitutional Right rather than a gratuity in exchange for military service. The Federal Circuit is now forcing the VA to live up to its claim that the VA system be tilted in favor of veterans – i.e. that it is nonadversarial and that vets get the benefit of the doubt. Things are changing. However, DAV would like to turn back the hands of time. In response to the push against attorneys, veterans responded by researching compensation of VSO executives. Since VSO’s claim attorneys make too much money, some veterans thought it was worthwhile to see how salaries added up. Of the biggest VSO’s, DAV had the highest total compensation of the bunch. When compared to Secretary Shinseki’s salary of $200,000, the executive salaries of the VSO’s have been questioned by these same veterans.
The Message From Veterans To DAV, “Pot calling the kettle black.”
Here is what some within the veteran community had to say: Keith Rose: “That kind of money going to the big wigs when the actual service officers are underpaid in comparison to their VA equivalent counterparts. The heads making $250k or more is ridiculous! What kind of NPO pays theirs heads that much money when they seemingly provide so little to the people they are supposed to be advocating for!?”
Garwin Redman: “Chevy Cobalt service, at Ferrari pay. Just like government.”
Tanya Boozer: “People donate to these organizations to help veterans and their families NOT so the executives can get rich! If they want a six-figure income, they need to work for a for-profit company not a non profit.”
Tyler Brown: “”They have turned a national disgrace into a subsidized wealth program of their own to which it becomes profitable to have a backlog because if it were not for the backlog their job would not exist at all”
Bryan Dyer: “Not as angry at their compensation as I am at the quality of work that they produce along with the absolute archaic structures that I’ve seen. They need new blood, young blood, who are able to incorporate technology, program management, and lead this new wave of veterans into the future. CEO of non – profits make tremendous amounts of money. I don’t care about them making money due to the responsibility they have on their shoulders. I want new programs that are helping veterans get jobs. Why aren’t they leading the way with IAVA, Hire Heroes, and various other NSO’s to develop positions with top fortune 50 companies.”
Thomas Bruce: “Just more of the “elite” screwing the commoner again. It happens unfortunately in most aspects of “caring” entities.”
The Facebook Page “Gulf War Veterans” was a big help with this research.