INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
An Indiana lawmaker is seeking to tighten up management of a grant program
meant to help struggling veterans following revelations that the state
agency that oversees it awarded some of the grants to its own employees.
Randy Frye, of Greensburg, submitted a bill Thursday that would make Indiana
Department of Veterans’ Affairs employees ineligible for grants from the
Military Family Relief Fund and would firmly cap the lifetime amount a
person could receive at $2,500, The Indianapolis Star reported.
The measure would
also set a 60-day window for the approval or denial of grants and prevent
the state agency from awarding them to veterans who submit incomplete
leader, James Brown, resigned last month following reports that he awarded
money to veterans who worked under him, including workers earning $40,000 to
$50,000. Some received grants for expenses such as new tires and car
payments, even though other veterans said the agency refused to provide
assistance for their vehicle needs.
In certain cases,
agency workers and other veterans received grants that exceeded the
published $2,500 lifetime limit.
Frye said that he
filed his legislation “with the intention of righting what I consider are
“I don’t think
someone within the organization should be receiving funds that they
themselves can steer. And I think if there’s a limit of $2,500, it should
apply to everyone,” he said.
came after The Indianapolis Star and WRTV-TV questioned the agency’s
administration of the fund, which is supported by fees from specialty
veteran license plates. Brown, a decorated Vietnam veteran, denied
were raising concerns about the program for months and even sought an
investigation by the Indiana Office of Inspector General, which declined to
take the case.
An investigation by
the Star found that middle-income employees at the state agency had an
inside track on the emergency assistance grants. That investigation and a
subsequent state audit also found that the program was poorly managed, with
some applications languishing for months while others were processed even
though they were incomplete.