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W. Gardner Selby
By W. Gardner Selby July 18, 2011

Counselors came and went

Vowing to reduce backlogged Texas claims for veterans benefits from the federal government, Gov. Rick Perry revealed in 2009 that he had directed nearly $400,000 to be spent on employing up to a dozen counselors at the Texas Veterans Commission to help advance claims for benefits.

That indeed happened, starting in December 2009, commission spokesman Duncan McGhee told us by email, though only two counselors were still being paid by the state as of the end of May and the initial funding had dwindled to $7,949.

"As employees left through attrition," McGhee said, the commission "determined that it was better to continue operating the program with fewer employees for a longer period than it would be to try and replace the employees." As of June 13, he said, the teams had pulled together 16,771 claims and presented them to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs "for final decision or award action," reducing the backlog cited by Perry.

McGhee said the 2011 Legislature did not approve the agency's request to continue funding the counselors in 2012-13.

Noted: Perry didn't say he'd keep the counselors aboard indefinitely. This is a Promise Kept.

Our Sources

Email and telephone interview, response to PolitiFact Texas, Duncan McGhee, public information officer, Texas Veterans Commission, June 16 and 17, 2011

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