Jim Webb weighs in on the U.S. Navy Veterans Association, which is in the news these days for campaign contributions to Ken Cuccinelli and other Virginia politicians. Yesterday, the DPVA called on Cooch to return $55,000 he received the former director of the U.S. Navy Veterans Association. So far, Cooch has not done so, even though others – Bob McDonnell, Patsy Ticer – have announced that they will. As usual, Cooch marches to the (crazy) beat of his own (crazy) drummer!
May 18, 2010
The Honorable Eric Shinseki
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20420
Dear Secretary Shinseki:
I recently became aware that the U.S. Navy Veterans Association, otherwise known as “U.S. Navy Vets”, a 501 (c)(19) “war membership” organization, is under investigation in at least three states for its legitimacy, fundraising activities and expenditures on behalf of veterans. It is disconcerting to learn that this organization is listed on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) online Directory of Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs).
I understand that the online Directory of VSOs is published as an informational service, and that inclusion of an organization in the directory does not constitute approval or endorsement by VA of the organization or its activities. At the same time, it stands to reason that veterans have a reasonable expectation of legitimacy and credibility if such an organization is listed on your official website, regardless of official endorsement.
I recommend strongly that you clarify the procedures and vetting processes that the VA uses prior to authorizing a VSO listing on its website. I would also like to have clarified what policies exist to review the directory, once a VSO is included, to ensure that listed organizations continue to provide a valuable service to our veterans.
I further request that you inform me as soon as possible of the results of your review. I know you share my concern that we should minimize the opportunity for unscrupulous organizations to mislead or exploit our nation’s veterans.
United States Senator