Darin Selnick, a senior Veterans Affairs adviser, flew to Washington, D.C. from California for two weeks out of every month, at taxpayers’ expense. Reports show that the costs for the six trips during the time period between Oct. 21, 2018, and Jan. 19, 2019 included: $3,885.60 for six round-trip flights in coach, $5,595.46 for 23 nights in hotels and $1,976 for meals. In other news, an army veteran is suing over defective earplugs.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs paid $13,000 over a three-month period for a senior official’s biweekly commute to Washington from his home in California, according to expense reports obtained by ProPublica. The official, Darin Selnick, is a senior adviser to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie and has played a key role in developing the administration’s controversial new rules on referring veterans to private doctors. The proposal, announced last month, has drawn opposition from some lawmakers and veterans groups. (Arnsdorf, 2/15)
The suits on behalf of service members come after 3M settled a federal lawsuit in July for $9.1 million to resolve allegations that it knowingly supplied the U.S. military with defective earplugs. The suit was brought under the False Claims Act after a whistle-blower complaint. … Hearing impairments, including constant ringing from tinnitus, can be debilitating and permanent and had been the No. 1 service-connected disability reported among veterans since 2005, the Government Accountability Office reported in 2011. Tinnitus and hearing loss remain top health conditions at Veterans Affairs medical centers, costing the department billions in benefit claims, according to the complaint. (Cohn, 2/15)
And in news from the military —
A federal judge on Friday ordered the U.S. Air Force to temporarily stop discharging service members who are HIV-positive, ruling that it’s working under a policy that is “irrational” and “outdated.” U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema in Alexandria, Virginia, issued her decision as a lawsuit moves forward against the U.S. Military. (2/15)
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