SLDN’s Sarvis Admonishes VA in Wake of Revelations of Lavish Spending
For Immediate Release:
Thursday, August 16, 2012
Contact: Zeke Stokes
at (202) 621-5406 or email@example.com
SLDN’s Sarvis Admonishes Department of Veterans Affairs To Take Action in Wake of Revelations of Excessive Spending, Allegations of Misappropriation of Resources
(Washington, DC) Army Veteran and SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis today sent a letter to Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, following reports made public this week regarding allegations by the Office of Inspector General about excessive spending and “questionable activities,” including $5 million spent during conferences that included concert tickets and spa treatments for attendees.
“If these allegations are substantiated, this misuse of taxpayer money - especially taxpayer money that was intended for the care and support of our nation’s veterans - is completely unacceptable,” Sarvis writes in the letter.
“This news is especially disconcerting to gay and lesbian veterans, who are blocked from providing their hard-earned VA benefits to their spouses because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and other federal statutes. It is insulting to be told by the VA that they will not provide the same benefits to same sex spouses that they provide to opposite sex spouses, only to then watch the VA allegedly waste money during conferences,” he writes.
Sarvis called on the Department of Veterans Affairs to follow through on its commitment for a full investigation and to make its findings public.
“There are hundreds of thousands of veterans who have put their lives on the line in defense of this country. They need support, they need care, and they need access to the benefits they have earned for themselves and their families. In short, they need their VA to be doing better than this,” he writes.
SLDN renewed its call for the Department of Veterans Affairs to acknowledge more quickly the realities of open service by gay and lesbian service members, which will inevitably lead to more gay and lesbian veterans seeking services and assistance from the VA.
“The VA needs to be a welcoming place for all veterans - including LGBT veterans - and stories like this do not help promote the image of a well-functioning and effective VA,” Sarvis said.
To view the full letter, click here.
ABOUT SLDN: Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) is a non-partisan, non-profit, legal services and policy organization dedicated to bringing about full LGBT equality to America's military and ending all forms of discrimination and harassment of military personnel on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. SLDN provides free and direct legal assistance to service members and veterans affected by the repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law and the prior regulatory ban on open service, as well as those currently serving. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender service members with questions are urged to contact the SLDN hotline to speak with a staff attorney: Call 1-800-538-7418 or 202-328-3244 x100.