George Wincapaw thought he was getting some strange requests from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
The 63-year-old Vietnam War veteran had had several heart attacks since leaving the Navy, submitting enough paperwork on them to amass a two-volume file at the Veterans Benefits Administration office. But in response to his most recent claim, submitted earlier this year, the office was requesting copies of medical records Wincapaw had already submitted.
Curious, he traveled from his home in Oconomowoc to the VA regional offices in Milwaukee to look at his medical file. What he found shocked him.
He wasn’t providing duplicates. Dozens of his medical records were missing.
Then the public contact representative with whom he was reviewing his file broke the news: An employee had been fired from the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Wincapaw’s representative agency, for destroying veterans’ records.
An official with the state VFW, which handles thousands of such cases a year, told Public Investigator the employee had shredded nearly all its veterans files – no one knows how many – after making a unilateral decision to go “paperless…”
Steve Lawrence, speaking for the group, admitted that Lee Guerrero, who represented veterans on their claims, was fired in August 2009 for shredding all of their claimant files in the VFW service office.
He did not keep electronic copies of the documents, either…
“He just thought going paperless meant getting rid of the files . . . It cost him his job as soon as we found out about it,” Lawrence said.
RTFA. Explains other stuff you may find interesting as well.
Dumbest part? Employees who complained about what Guerrero was doing – were told to shut up. They weren’t high enough up the food chain to get anyone to listen to them.