Veterans Group Falls Short, Wasted Money

Expense account dinners, first class travel, luxury hotels and top pay. Sounds nice, right?

That's how a nonprofit group "squandered" federal funding it received from Congress to help veterans start small businesses.

A Senate investigative report said the group, the National Veterans Business Development Corp., aka Veterans Corp, spent just 9 percent of its budget last year on the small business centers it was supposed to start and run.

The Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, which conducted the review, called for the group's funding to cease.

"It's appalling that an organization created to aid our nation's heroes would instead squander taxpayer dollars, wining and dining their executives instead of helping veterans," committee chairman Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) was quoted as saying by a story in The Post.

After the report's release, the Veterans of Foreign Wars joined the committee in calling for a cut in funding.

"The VFW wants TVC's funding redirected to expand veteran-specific programs within the Small Business Administration, and for the federal government to incorporate TVC business centers into its Veterans Business Outreach Center network. The Small Business Administration, unlike TVC, is subject to congressional oversight and accountability, and with 1,500 small business development centers across the country, it is more capable of reaching out and working with veterans."

Veterans object to the idea the group even uses the word veteran in its name.

One reader writes: "The Veterans Corporation is not a veterans group or organization. It was created by Congress and not by military veterans. Even the use of the word 'veterans' in their name is tainting 'real' veterans organizations."

By Robert O'Harrow |  December 15, 2008; 9:39 AM ET small business
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The Veterans Corporation is not a veterans group or organization. It was created by Congress and not by military veterans. Even the use of the word "veterans" in their name is tainting "real" veterans organizations. I wish the Post would get this right.

Posted by: jdavis703 | December 15, 2008 10:59 AM

Thank you for the article. What I found shameless is the Committee's report and Senator Kerry's retort. Congress created this Corp, but then let it operate for 8 years before overseeing its creation. The original five year funding was $24M, not $12M (see CBO cost estimate to HR 1568). I suspect (but didn't research) that it continued to receive $2-4M per year since 2004. The bill was sponsored by Rep Jim Talent, with 67 Cosponsors. It was unanimously approved by the Senate SB Committee (Senator Bond, Senator Kerry). The committee report does not identify that these representatives were involved in establishing this corporation that was permitted by Congress and the two committees to squander millions. This is a perfect example of Congressional incompetence. The institution can't establlish and manage a small non-profit. Heaven help us as Congress decides to start managing other industries and enterprises.

Posted by: pkilbourn | December 17, 2008 12:13 PM

If the mission of the Congressional created organization is not being met, then it should be disbanded and the millions of dollars that are sent to it via taxpayers should be made available to projects that do work. When this organization is googled, it goes to a site that is run by a retired more example of how the GOP created special interest groups prior to the run-up to Iraq and then proclaimed that veterans supported the war....shameless, But another instance of how the Bush Administration duped the American public, so much for his legacy of "good work".

Posted by: axf56730 | December 17, 2008 12:28 PM

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