Veteranclaims’s Blog

August 3, 2010

VA Accused of Diverting $6.3 Million from TBI Research and Treatment

Full Article at: VA accused of diverting $6.3 million meant for brain injuries

By Walter F. Roche Jr.
Monday, August 2, 2010

Two members of Congress are asking Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to investigate why $6.3 million intended for research and treatment of traumatic brain injuries was spent without treating any veterans.

A letter to Shinseki from Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Rep. Brad Miller, D-N.C., centers on allegations from a former VA physician who says he was forced out of the agency in retaliation for raising questions about money for brain injuries, the “signature injury” of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center reports 10 percent to 20 percent of troops with combat exposure there suffered concussions from roadside bombs.

Burr and Miller agreed Friday to give Shinseki’s staff until Aug. 9 to respond to the inquiry.

Physician Robert Van Boven was hired to direct the brain imaging laboratory in Austin in 2007, a year after it opened. He quickly questioned why $2 million was spent on apparently unrelated research and, not long after, was stripped of some supervisory authority and then removed. The center closed and reopened in Waco, Texas.”

“It appears that the VA diverted the money … and punished one of its doctors for pointing out this abuse of taxpayers’ funds,” says the letter from Burr and Miller, made public last week.

Van Boven’s case appears to parallel that of radiologist Anna Chacko, who says VA officials ousted her from her post at the Pittsburgh VA facility in Oakland after she questioned spending and treatment practices.”

“Burr is ranking member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, and Miller chairs the Investigations Subcommittee of the House Science and Technology Committee. Their letter asks Shinseki to investigate how and why officials diverted $6.3 million.

“The money was simply not used as it was intended,” Miller said.”

“Burr and Miller noted that a report by the VA’s inspector general found none of the money appropriated for the traumatic brain injury program went toward clinical services for veterans or research on treatment of such injuries. Devine said Van Boven’s inquiry showed the money paid for unrelated research that Texas VA administrators approved.”

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