Veterans’ Attorney Voices Concerns About VA’s Reported Destruction of Veterans’ Medical Records

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Matthew Hill encourages veterans to write their congressmen and women and demand an inquiry into reports that the VA destroyed medical records to reduce the backlog

This illustrates the larger problem of the backlog in the VA. Everyone knows that there is a problem...VA must be held accountable here.

According to a February 26, 2014 report on Fox News, employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) destroyed veterans’ medical files in an attempt to eliminate backlogged medical exam requests. Oliver Mitchell, a Marine veteran and former patient services assistant for the VA Greater Los Angeles Medical Center, claims that records were destroyed to reduce the backlog and correct efficiency issues. A February 26, 2014 blog post on the va.gov website disputes the allegation.

This comes on the heels of a January 7, 2014 CNN investigation that reported veterans died as a result of delayed or denied care at VA hospitals.

Matthew Hill, Veterans’ Disability Attorney and Board Member of the National Organization of Veterans’ Advocates, Inc. (NOVA), believes that stories like these deteriorate veterans’ trust in the government. While representing veterans, Hill has witnessed, first hand, the struggles and difficulties veterans face due to the VA appeals backlog. After spending years fighting the VA and seeing countless tricks, Hill said he would not be surprised to find there is some truth to the report that the Department of Veterans Affairs employees destroyed veterans’ medical records, effectively canceling backlogged exam requests. “The idea that veterans are treated as statistics and the VA is more interested in improving its numbers than improving veterans’ lives is despicable. VA must be held accountable here," said Hill.

Hill asserts that the VA is more interested in its statistics than helping the veterans who are in its care. “This illustrates the larger problem of the backlog in the VA,” said Hill. “Everyone knows that there is a problem. Veterans and veteran advocates like me see this as a problem about actual people whereas the VA sees this as a problem of numbers and publicity. It wants to fix its numbers, not help its veterans. It wants to fix its public image, not address the backlog to help veterans in a timely manner.”

Hill encourages veterans to write their congressmen and women and demand an inquiry into the report of destroyed veterans’ medical records.

About NOVA:
NOVA is a not for profit 501(c)(6) educational membership organization incorporated in the District of Columbia in 1993. NOVA represents nearly 500 attorneys and agents assisting tens of thousands of our nation's military veterans, their widows and their families obtain VA benefits. NOVA members represent veterans before all levels of VA's disability claim process and the organization is a strong voice in support of legislation that helps veterans receive the benefits they deserve. In 2000, the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims recognized NOVA's work on behalf of veterans with the Hart T. Mankin Distinguished Service Award.

Matthew Hill is on the board of NOVA and a managing partner at Hill & Ponton, specializing in Veterans Disability Law. He is a member of the Florida Bar Association, Orange County Bar Association and American Bar Association. For more information about Hill's views on the VA and reports of destroyed veterans’ medical records, please contact Hill & Ponton at 1-888-477-2363 or info(at)hillandponton(dot)com

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