VA’s unclaimed properties are the subject of widespread concern because they are often the result of fraud and misrepresentation.
Now, a group of Virginia lawmakers wants to help victims and get property back to their rightful owners.
The House of Delegates approved a resolution on Tuesday that would authorize the state’s Unearned Property Recovery Program to collect property and use it for veterans and their families.
The resolution directs VA to submit to the Virginia Division of Unclaimed Claims an inventory of unclaimed VA property.
“It’s been a long time coming, but we need to act now to help these veterans,” said Virginia House Speaker Frank Chopp.
The Unclaimed Properties Fund is designed to provide financial assistance to VA patients, their families and caregivers who need to recover property from their former homes.
For veterans, VA will make available funds for the purchase of property that may be unclaimed or have been acquired by non-VA owners.
It also would reimburse VA for up to $3,000 for property that has been damaged or lost, and up to 50% of the purchase price.
VA has not made an effort to identify property lost or damaged to date, Chopp said.
But the VA has a $7 million backlog in unclaimed tax and title information, which it has not addressed.
Chopp is seeking an increase in the VA’s budget to help offset the backlog.
The VA’s Office of Unsolved Claims, which oversees unclaimed and unclaimed-related matters, has received nearly $1 billion in property and property-related expenses for the past five years.
The unclaimed amount could rise to $2 billion or more by 2020, Chopping said.
“This bill will allow us to better address the backlog of unreturned VA property and help provide veterans and families with additional relief,” Chopp told reporters.
VA is currently investigating more than 60 unclaimed cases.
Some VA employees were charged with conspiracy, while others faced criminal charges, according to VA Secretary David Shulkin.