OTR Interviews

Whistle-blower: 34,000 vets still awaiting benefits - and it's no accident

Program specialist accuses Veterans Affairs of violating its own policy, says vets lost eligibility for health care after officials sat on their applications until they expired


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," July 21, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Exploding outrage at the Department of Veteran's Affairs, a whistle blower now accusing the agencies of delaying benefits for 34,000 combat veterans, yes, the troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

So what's going on at the V.A.? Whistle-blower Scott Davis joins us. Good evening, Sir. And tell me, what happened?

SCOTT DAVIS, V.A. WHISTLE-BLOWER: Thank you for having me, Greta. Basically what happened is that 34,000 men and women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan signed up to receive their healthcare benefits, but because of an intentional design flaw and the enrollment system, and errors by V.A. staff, they lost their guaranteed five year eligibility for V.A. healthcare. This is something that people...

VAN SUSTEREN: Let me ask you, what's the intentional flaw?

DAVIS: The intentional flaw is that V.A. is requiring these veterans to provide financial information to justify getting access to V.A. healthcare. But, the law is very clear that combat veterans are not required to provide financial information, because they have five years of guaranteed eligibility for V.A. healthcare once they leave the service.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. So what happened when you notified the V.A. of what was happening 34,000?

DAVIS: Well, they ignored it. The report went out to V.A. leadership, in particular it one of the Former Senior Executives, Lynn Harbin back in April. Nothing took place. Now, most recently, since the sort of media attention has escalated, I have been told that V.A. is going to look into it, but that isn't good enough, Greta. These systematic obstacles -- what I call a modern day poll tax, blocking veterans from getting benefits that they're entitled to must be changed. And that's something that the president can work with Congress to address overnight.

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, I would just get an order because we went on the website and it says returning service member's benefits. That, of course, would be anybody who served in combat will be qualified. What it says here on their website, combat veterans, while not required to disclose their income information may do so to determine their eligibility for a higher priority status, and it goes on. So it says here that they don't have to. And so you are saying that the V.A. is now requiring them to do so. And so if they get sort of lost in the shuffle on this, they become ineligible for the benefits.

DAVIS: Exactly, Greta. What happens is, and especially for 16,000 of these 34,000 veterans, they have already lost their five years of guaranteed eligibility. And that was something that was done by the V.A. that V.A. had the ability to correct several years ago. Remember, in order for you to lose your five years of eligibility, your application had to sit for five years.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I think if Donald Trump gets a hold of it, this is going to light him on fire. He has been talking about the V.A. in the last couple days. If he hears this, it's going to light him on fire.

DAVIS: And I hope it does. I hope that Donald Trump asks a simple question, what are they doing to address issues at V.A.? Why are 238,000 veterans on the pending list deceased? Why are 34,000 brave men and women who fought for this country being denied access to their benefits? And here is a great question that I know Donald Trump will want to ask. Why hasn't anyone been fired?

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, interesting to find out. Scott, thank you. Whistle-blowers are so important to so many people in this country. Thank you for stepping up. Thank you, sir.

DAVIS: Thank you, Greta.