Missouri Veterans Commission responds to audit with improved communication process, oversight
MOUNT VERNON, MO – Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway presented the results of an audit of the Missouri Veterans Commission in late March at the Mount Vernon Veterans Home in southwest Missouri. The commission is charged with providing benefits assistance and support to Missouri’s veterans.
The audit identifies a number of areas for improvement, including recommendations to keep veterans updated on the status of their claims filed with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. In response to the audit, the commission has agreed to update its communications policy to ensure veterans remain informed throughout the claims process.
“The work of the Missouri Veterans Commission is critical to ensuring Missouri veterans’ needs are met and they have a voice in our state,” Auditor Galloway said. “We all agree the brave men and women who have served our nation and our state need to understand the decisions commission employees make on their behalf. That’s why I’m pleased that the commission’s response to our recommendations shows a continued commitment to improving services for veterans and to putting them first.”
Commission employees assist veterans with pension and disability claims filed with the federal VA, but auditors previously found the commission lacked formal policies to provide veterans with notification regarding the filing of their claims, which increased the potential for confusion and misunderstanding. The Auditor’s Office became aware of complaints from veterans after being contacted by Congresswoman Ann Wagner’s office.
The commission implemented a new policy based on previous findings, but the current audit found the policy was not always followed. Commission employees do not always obtain documentation confirming they have informed veterans of their claim status and do not always provide written notification to veterans when they determine a claim will not be filed. The commission stated in its response to the audit that it would take steps to ensure veterans are kept informed of their claims.
“This is how good government should work,” Auditor Galloway said. “Congresswoman Ann Wagner brought this important issue to the attention of the State Auditor’s Office, and auditors examined current practices to identify ways to better serve veterans. The commission took my staff’s recommendations seriously and has committed to making these important improvements.”
The audit also recommends the commission increase oversight to ensure staff make accurate, authorized changes when adjusting balances owed by veterans living in Missouri Veterans Homes. Auditors found commission staff used funds designated for veterans homes to pay non-home expenses and recommended that the commission work with the legislature to increase transparency of the funds and to ensure expenditures are made appropriately.
The complete report of the Missouri Veterans Commission, which received a performance rating of “good,” is available online.