INDIANAPOLIS-- A brigadier general says hundreds of his fellow veterans missed out on valuable services because of mistakes made by the state.
A scathing audit just released by the State Board of Accounts said the Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs and its oversight panel, the Indiana Veterans’ Affairs Commission, failed to adopt rules and written procedures for several funds.
The audit said IDVA was supposed to create rules for Grants for Veterans’ Services including addressing application procedures, eligibility criteria, selection procedures, and verification of use of funds.
Brigadier general James Bauerle said his group, The Military Veterans Coalition of Indiana, fought in 2017 to get $2 million to help veterans affected by PTSD, traumatic brain injuries and homelessness.
However, Bauerle said because no rules were in place, hundreds of veterans lost out on services that could have helped them feel better and get off the street.
“It’s very, very disheartening and it makes me angry,” said Bauerle. “I and others worked so hard at the General Assembly to help those veterans in need. To see our key agencies not doing their job and not helping and abusing the trust of the veterans and the population, I think that's absolutely unforgivable.”
Bauerle said in 2017 the legislature allocated money for veterans with PTSD and TBIs to undergo hyperbaric oxygen therapy at five different hospitals.
“It was supposed to be a pilot program and the evidence produced would be assembled and brought back to the Governor and General Assembly to prove hyperbaric oxygen therapy does in fact improve significantly veterans who suffer from TBI and PTSD,” said Bauerle. “Now I find out in this audit report that we don’t even have the rules to issue that money to people.”
Call 6 Investigates emailed IDVA and the commission Tuesday afternoon to ask for a comment and more information about the Grants for Veterans’ Services.
In its response to the State Board of Accounts, IDVA and the Indiana Veterans’ Affairs Commission vowed to improve written policies and procedures over the Grants for Veterans’ Services and other funds.
“The revised criteria will be submitted to SBoA for review and comment; and, where required, undergo the rule promulgation processes,” read IDVA and the commission’s written response to the audit.
IDVA director Jim Brown resigned effective December 28.
Governor Eric Holcomb has not yet named his replacement.
Some veterans say Holcomb needs to hold others at IDVA accountable, especially in light of the audit.
“I think it’s time for a whole new group of leadership and management in there,” said Bauerle.