What the VA wants you to know about veterans' programs

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It's a company that says it's assisted thousands of desperate veterans by helping them to get benefits and home care services. (WLS)

It's a company that says it's assisted thousands of desperate veterans by helping them to get benefits and home care services.

But one local family says the company isn't fully delivering on its promises.

A homebound couple reached out to the I-Team after using a service to facilitate their home care.

Now that couple has accused the company of being unreliable.

Marla Fleagle and her husband Larry rely on government veteran benefits for home care in their suburban Romeoville residence.

"I went to Vietnam," said Larry Fleagle.

"We feel very taken advantage of," said Marla Fleagle. "I can't walk very far and neither can Larry."

Both suffer from multiple illnesses which would leave them stranded if they didn't have home care services. So they turned to Vet Assist also known as Veterans Home Care.

"They were going to help us get the veterans benefit money from the government to pay for caregiving," said Marla Fleagle.

They gave Vet Assist permission to withdraw money from their checking account every month for home care.

"Sometimes they would have good people coming in who knew what they were doing and there were times when the regular person wouldn't come, and then the agency couldn't supply anybody else and we'd be without a caregiver," said Marla.

The couple says after they complained, they were dropped. Now they are facing a due bill for almost $3,200.

Jason Knowles: "And they dropped you?"

Larry Fleagle: "Yes they dropped us when we complained."

Vet Assist says the Fleagles owe the money for past services. The company says: "It is extremely rare that we cancel a relationship with a ...client."

"And if they're not here we're dead in the water," said Larry.

The I-Team checked with the Department of Veteran Affairs which says: "Only VA-recognized organizations and VA-accredited individuals may provide this assistance to claimants. Veterans Home Care is not a VA-recognized organization."

"They cared for us, but they basically didn't know what they were doing at times," said Larry.

The company's website does say that they are "not part of any government agency and are not affiliated with the... VA."

They told the I-Team that the VA does not offer any type of recognition or accreditation for its business model and saying:

"Since 2003, we have successfully helped more than 13,000 veterans and surviving spouses access quality home care and a little-known VA pension to pay for that care... we charge for home care services but never charge for any assistance with the VA pension. With respect for our former client's privacy, we will not comment on his case."

Search for VA recognized organizations by clicking here.

Full VA statement:

"The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is authorized to recognize organizations and accredit individuals for the purpose of assisting claimants in the preparation, presentation, and prosecution of claims for VA benefits. Only VA-recognized organizations and VA-accredited individuals may provide this assistance to claimants. Veterans Home Care is not a VA-recognized organization. A complete list of VA-recognized organizations and VA-accredited individuals can be found at: https://www.va.gov/ogc/apps/accreditation/index.asp.

From Illinois Attorney General's head of Military & Veterans Rights:

"Someone seeking assistance regarding VA Benefits should first consult with an accredited VA representative such as those available through the State VA, your local county Veterans Assistance Commission, or organizations such as the American Legion, VFW, and Disabled American Veterans. These are free services. Our office can help people find their local VSO. VA offers direct assistance, but there is more potential for personalized service through these public or know veterans organizations."

Related Topics:
healthI-Teamveteranshealth careva hospitalsRomeoville
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