"It is inexcusable" — Collins, King ask for answers after I-Team investigation
NATIONWIDE (WGME) — Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) are now asking for answers from the federal government after an I-Team investigation last month.
We exposed a bureaucratic battle costing veterans in Maine and across the country millions of dollars.
We discovered thousands of veterans are being forced to repay their severance, and it's been happening for years.
Concerned that's now causing undue financial hardship, Collins and King sent a letter to both Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald.
Veterans in Maine and across the country told us they were never informed when they were leaving the service that they may have to repay their separation payments.
Now for the first time, the VA is admitting veterans are not told up front, they'll have to pay their severance back if they later qualify for disability or retirement.
After our story, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia) sent CBS 13 a letter he got from the VA when he asked about the issue.
"VA does not currently cover separation pay recoupment in transition assistance program briefings," the letter said.
"It is inexcusable that is not fully explained when they are accepting the separation pay," said Sen. Collins.
Collins teamed up with King to send a letter of their own with a series of questions to the Pentagon and VA, focusing on the lack of disclosure about repayment.
Carter and McDonald haven't yet responded to the letter, but the VA told the I-Team that unless Congress changes the law, they have no choice but to recoup the money.
However, going forward, repayment information will be disclosed during separation briefings.