Protecting veterans from pension poaching

After serving in the Pacific Theatre of World War II, my father was honorably discharged following four years of service. At the age of 91, he was unable to care for my mother after she fractured her hip, and the process of finding an assisted living facility to accommodate both of them began.

When I toured these residences, a common question was whether or not my dad was a veteran. Upon acknowledging that he was, contacts were given to me to help with obtaining veterans benefits for my dad.

Throughout these calls, I was surprised that almost all questions were finance related – did my parents own a house, car, or stock? Although this information was needed to complete a veteran’s claim, I had an uncomfortable feeling and instead opted to go through my local Veteran’s Office to file a claim.

During the filing process, I spoke with several certified Veterans Service Officers (VSOs) and heard about businesses that profited from handling these claims, when assistance could be sought directly through a VSO at no charge. The VSOs noted that many of these businesses or individuals were non-accredited, and not affiliated with the Department of Veterans Affairs. They were attempting to profit off the claim process – at times persuading the veterans or their family to make risky investments or financial decisions.

Amounts billed to veterans in some situations totaled thousands of dollars. These brave men and women who have served our country should not be subjected to this predatory practice.

I’ve introduced House Bill 4918 which limits this exploitative behavior. Non-aligned benefit agencies often prioritize profit over protection of our veterans and prey on the vulnerable when care and aid is required. This is unacceptable. We must do right by our veterans. It’s time to end pension poaching now.

Rep. Sue Allor

Michigan 106th District