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VFW Washington Weekly – July 30, 2010

In This Issue:
1. Stop-Loss Vets to Lose Retroactive Payments
2. VA to Investigate Life Insurance Practices
3. Arlington National Cemetery Hearing
4. VA Funding Clears House
5. House VA Committee Hearings
6. Help VFW Win the Pepsi Refresh Grant

2. VA to Investigate Life Insurance Practices: The VA is investigating what may be a legal yet shameful life insurance industry practice of putting veterans' death benefits into corporate accounts instead of making lump sum payments to survivors.  Prudential Financial Inc. and MetLife Inc. are among the companies to be investigated, according to Bloomberg Markets magazine.  Another industry practice to be investigated is the payment of uncompetitive interest rates to survivors.  In 2008, for example, Prudential paid survivors 1 percent interest on their accounts, while it earned a 4.8 percent return on its corporate funds, according to Bloomberg.  Such accounts are not FDIC protected.  House VA Committee Chairman Bob Filner (D-CA) said he was "outraged" that insurance practices appear to result in "corporations retaining the assets in corporate accounts, profiting from the interest, and failing to pass accrued interest to surviving families." 
3. Arlington National Cemetery Hearing: Senate Homeland Security Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight Chairwoman Claire McCaskill (D-MO) used in her opening statement parts of VFW-submitted testimony to describe the mismanagement of Arlington National Cemetery as "a national disgrace."  Witnesses included the former cemetery superintendent and his deputy, as well as two civilian deputy assistant secretaries of the Army and the newly-appointed director of Army National Cemeteries.  The intent of the hearing was to uncover potential fraud, waste and abuse in the cemetery's failed effort to electronically upgrade its paper-based burial filing system.  The Army Inspector General revealed in June that $5.5 million had been spent on numerous IT projects that never materialized.  At the hearing, it was mentioned that the amount spent may have exceeded $8 million, and that the number of unmarked or improperly marked gravesites could number upwards of 6,000.  The IG report disclosed only 211 known sites.  In testimony submitted for the record, the VFW said failure at Arlington National Cemetery does not rest solely on the shoulders of the former superintendent and his deputy, both of whom retired earlier this month.  The failure was allowed to occur by a hands-off attitude by those more senior in the chain-of-command, who may have regarded their oversight responsibility more as an additional duty than a primary mission. To view video of the hearing and read witness testimonies, go to http://hsgac.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Hearings.Hearing&Hearing_id=cc2f65d4-3908-4934-aba3-9c559c8d0822.

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Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post4256/general/vfw-washington-weekly-july-30-2010/