SCHUMER: BUREAUCRATIC RED TAPE IS PREVENTING DISABLED VETERAN FROM GETTING THE VITAL WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE HOME IMPROVEMENTS HE NEEDS; VET SUFFERS FROM SERIOUS ILLNESS SUSTAINED WHILE SERVING IN IRAQ AND KUWAIT – SCHUMER DEMANDS TIMELINE & ANSWERS FROM THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION; SAYS DELAY IS DENYING BASIC QUALITY OF LIFE
Dale Dart is a Western NYer & Disabled Gulf War Veteran; He Has Multiple Sclerosis Linked to the Use of Uranium in Weapons Used by U.S. Armed Forces in Iraq During His Service– As a Result, Dart is Confined to a Wheelchair & Spends Most Days in the Basement of His Home Because The Rest of the Home is Not Wheelchair Accessible
The VA Approved Home Improvements on Dart’s Home To Add an Accessible Bathroom and Bedroom for Dart, But Bureaucratic Red Tape Has Caused Over Two Years of Delay; Construction on the Wheelchair Accessible Addition to His Home Recently Halted Due to the VA’s Lack of Coordination
Schumer: This Veteran Served His Country & Now Must Suffer Because of Grinding Gears of Bureaucracy – Right Hand Does Not Know What The Left is Doing; VA Must Get This Project Done For Mr. Dart ASAP
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today urged the Veterans Administration (VA) to cut through bureaucratic red tape and promptly provide answers and a project timeline for Dale Dart and his family, who have been awaiting construction on a wheelchair accessible addition to their home following serious illness Dart suffered while serving his country. Dart is a Western New Yorker and Gulf War veteran who suffers from multiple sclerosis, linked to the use of depleted uranium in weapons used by U.S. Armed Forces during his time in Iraq. Two years ago, the VA approved both internal and external home improvements to the Dart home in order to construct a wheelchair accessible addition to their home, for which Schumer lauded the VA. However, lack of internal communications in the VA has resulted in the project being delayed time-and-time again.
“The VA is doing the right thing; they are just not doing it in the right way,” said Senator Schumer. “The right had does not know what the left hand is doing and the result is interminable delays, poor communication, and no wheelchair accessible home for Mr. Dart – which is something he needs and deserves in thanks for his service to this nation. It’s been two years: Enough already. The VA must cut through this morass of red tape once and for all and provide the hard-and-fast timeline the Dart family has been waiting on for years. The Dart family must not have to wait another two years for this essential project to be completed.”
“It is a travesty that a man who suffered serious illness after serving our country, now has to suffer at the hands of government bureaucracy over critical wheelchair accessible additions to his home that will greatly improve his quality of life,” Schumer continued.
Specifically, after two years of planning, the VA approved Kaz Construction as the sole contractor for the project; they broke ground last month. Around the same time, however, the VA notified the family that the project actually required an additional contractor for the interior work on the home because the project involves two different government programs. Schumer said the Dart family made multiple calls to the VA and was not provided any answers in regards the second contractor. As a result, the family continues to wait while the process becomes mired in red tape.
That is why Schumer is demanding the VA provide the family answers and a timeline in order to break up the bureaucratic red tape so the home addition can begin and Dart’s basic quality of life can be restored. Currently, Dart spends most days in the basement of the Dart family home because it is the only space in the house that is accessible for his wheelchair. What’s worse, Schumer said, is that due to the lack of communication on the part of the VA, the first contractor doing the building work cannot communicate with the unknown second contractor who will be doing the interior work. Schumer said these grinding gears of bureaucracy have delayed the process that has already taken too long.
Schumer explained that, when this project originally began, two VA programs – Independent Living and Specially Adjusted Housing (SAH) – both agreed that the contractor for the entire project would be KAZ Construction. It was only a few weeks ago that the VA, however, told the family a second contractor for the interior work would be needed as it involved these two different government programs. Schumer said the issue now is that the VA has not yet designated a second contractor for the interior work on the project, which includes hardwood floors, electrical wiring, plumbing, and other related work. Schumer said that to make matters worse, the contractor doing the initial work cannot communicate with the second contractor who will be doing the interior work. As a result, the project and construction of the wheelchair accessible home addition completely halted on June 9th.
Schumer said the family should have been made well aware of any additional requirements and it is not fair to a disabled veteran who suffered after serving the U.S. overseas to wait any longer. As a result, Schumer demanded the VA immediately finalize the decision on the second contractor and spell out a timeline with real deadlines so construction can get underway and the project can finally be completed. Schumer said Dart has waited long enough for this work to his home, which will vastly improve his quality of life when it is complete.
A copy of Senator Schumer’s letter to the VA appears below:
Dear Secretary McDonald,
I write today on behalf of my constituent, Dale Dart, a disabled Gulf War veteran who resides in Buffalo, NY. Dale has multiple sclerosis, linked to the use of depleted uranium in weapons used by U.S. Armed Forces in Iraq. He is confined to a wheelchair, and currently spends most of his days in his parents’ basement as it is the only space in the house that is wheelchair accessible. Through Specially Adaptive Housing program, the VA has pledged to complete this work outside and inside the Dart home. This is appropriate and appreciated. However, due to seemingly endless bureaucratic red tape, lack of effective intra-agency coordination and a lack of urgency, the necessary work to make Mr. Dart’s home wheelchair accessible has dragged on for two years. This is far too long, and I strongly urge the VA to promptly select a contractor to complete the remaining work, set forth a clear timeline, and convey this plan to the Dart family as soon as possible.
For the past two years, Dale and his family have been working to get a wheelchair-accessible addition on his family home, which would include an accessible bedroom and a bathroom. The Department of Veterans Affairs approved this addition two years ago, but the Dart family continues to face red tape and challenges, and this veteran continues to suffer.
After two years of planning, Kaz Construction, the approved contractor for the project, broke ground last month. Around the same time, however, the VA notified the family that the project actually requires an additional contractor for the interior work on the home, because the project involves two different government programs. The VA has not yet designated a second contractor for the interior work on the project, which includes hardwood floors, electrical wiring, plumbing, and other related work. The Dart family has made multiple calls to the VA, without any concrete answers about the second contractor. What’s worse is that because the contractor doing the building work cannot communicate with the contractor who will be doing the interior work, the project came to a complete halt due to a plumbing issue.
This lack of communication, foresight, and planning on the part of the VA is troubling and more needs to be done, and fast, to complete this much-deserved, yet too-long delayed project. It seems that one element of the VA is not communicating with another element of the VA, and neither is doing an acceptable job of communicating with this veteran and his family. The Dart family should have been made well aware of any requirements when the project was first approved two years ago.
I ask that your office immediately communicate with the Dart family and the second contractor, and clearly communicate any other outstanding requirements for this project. I hope to see a quick resolution so that the project can move forward without further delay. Dale Dart served his country, and he has waited long enough for this work to his home, which will vastly improve his quality of life.
If you require more information, please reach out to my office.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator
CC: Donna Mallia
Director, Buffalo VA Regional Benefit Office