Veterans struggling with addiction have a lifeline with the VA Domiciliary and compensated work therapy, they can stop sleeping rough and get clean in a safe environment, compensated work therapy can help them get back into the routine of working and provide a little spending cash.
Temple VA’s motor pool had a different idea about those programs and it didn’t have anything to do with veterans well being. Free labor that can’t complain is a boon to corrupt officials who were running their own little kingdom right there in the Temple VA motor pool. Free labor to deliver furniture to private homes of Veterans Affairs officials, car washes for VA employees and their family members.
How much damage was done to veterans in recovery and how many veterans have we lost to relapse through this corrupt and intimidating behavior?
That wasn’t all though, on further inspection, besides robbing these veterans of their self esteem and a chance at making a better lives for themselves. They were also able to funnel 1.3 million away in phony surcharges.
Don Peace, the manager of the Temple VA’s vocational program, told investigators that working at the motor pool had done irreparable harm to the veterans who were supposed to benefit from it.
“I think it really affected the veterans … it drove their self-esteem even lower, and then their only way of dealing with it, then, was to go back and either use drugs or drinkin’,” Peace told investigators, according to a transcript of his interview. “And for those that then was working as outpatients that was no longer in the (domiciliary), then they would relapse and just quit showing up, and we would have to try to track ‘em down.”
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Veterans in the work program at the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Temple campus had complained about being assigned to the motor pool for years. The complaints, made by veterans undergoing drug and alcohol treatment as they tried to get their lives back on track, alleged the unit’s boss – who was in charge of the grounds crew at the motor pool – had regularly subjected them to verbal abuse and tirades.