Veteran's medical records missing, accidental shredding blamed

More than 100 pages of medical records related to a veteran's heart condition and benefit claims went missing, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

George Wincapaw, a 63-year-old Vietnam War veteran who for years turned in paperwork to the Veterans Benefits Administration of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), was recently asked for copies of medical records that already had been submitted, the newspaper reports. Apparently, an employee of the Veterans of Foreign Wars--Wincapaw's representative agency--had been fired for shredding veterans' records in the VFW office, in an attempt to go "paperless."

But shredding might not explain Wincapaw's missing files. Medical records typically are forwarded to the VA and aren't stored at the VFW office, so Wincapaw's files would not have been among those recently destroyed, Steve Lawrence, speaking for the VFW, told the Journal Sentinel.

The benefits office, however, claims it never saw Wincapaw's files. "It's very unlikely somebody destroyed it on our end," said Thomas Braun, benefits office management analyst and public affairs officer. "We have amazing levels of security on our paper."

This isn't the first time veterans have dealt with missing or destroyed medical records. In October 2008, out of 57 regional VA offices, "41 had records in their shredder bins that shouldn't have been there," according to U.S. News & World Report. The recurring issue even inspired a mantra for veterans filing claims with the benefits office: "Delay, Deny and Hope that I Die," said the VA Watchdog.

For more:
- read the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article
- read the U.S. News & World Report article 
- check out the post from the VA Watchdog