Elizabeth Warren: Let’s Stop Scamming Our Vets

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/41612846@N08/6146760219/in/photolist-anaKEt-93NfMD-dqn8HG-a5w6qY-a5wjYu-bJqYqr-eNdCnw-8Cyo2t-8Cyo2e-aT5Qya-dqn8CA-auAHGJ-aT5Qyv-aT5Qyr-aT5Qyc-aT5Qyi-aT5Qy4-auAHHY-auAHJE-81arkx-djED2x-djEAjV-djEzrv-djECKF-djECuH-djEBH8-djEBr7-djEB1e-djEzQ8-djEA3Y-djEAwu-djEBbZ-djEC8L-djEDj2-dqmZMH-6XeYH8-8F98bg-9eFHFY-d1397E-bMjRp6-aQm2UK-aQm2Ng-aQm3ez-aQm2Ca-aQEEsV-aQm3kg-aQprje-aQEEqg-aQm3WH-aQm4J4-aQpr8P">Courtney Sacco</a>/Flickr

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This week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) introduced legislation along with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) that would protect elderly veterans from financial scams and sketchy financial advisers.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) funds an assisted living program for certain low-income veterans, and for years scammers and faux investment consultants have preyed on elderly vets enrolled in it. Warren and Rubio’s bill, introduced Tuesday, would require the VA to crack down on these shady dealers.

“For thousands of our oldest veterans who need help with basic daily activities, the…program is a critical lifeline,” Warren said. “Unfortunately, scams are turning the program into something that can actually undermine the financial security of our older veterans and waste federal funds.”

Swindlers calling themselves “veteran’s advisers” often charge vets fees to help them obtain assisted living benefits, even though the application is free, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). “Investment advisers” also profit off the assisted living program. These advisers will counsel veterans who have too many assets to qualify for the program to stow some of their money in a trust or account that cannot be accessed for years, so that it appears the vets are poor enough to qualify. The result is that vets cannot access their savings, and investment advisers earn a healthy commission for their “advice.”

Warren and Rubio initially proposed the legislation in November as an amendment to the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The amendment did not make it into the final annual defense bill, prompting Warren and her Republican colleague to introduce a stand-alone bill.

“This bipartisan proposal will help put an end to these financial scams and ensure that we honor our veterans’ commitment, sacrifice, and service to the nation,” Warren said.

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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