After delaying retirement, VA benefits director leaves

Danny Pummill, the acting undersecretary for benefits at the Veterans Affairs Department, is retiring, the agency announced June 16. Pummill had delayed his ret...

The Veterans Affairs Department is losing another benefits director.

Danny Pummill, the VA’s acting undersecretary for benefits, is retiring, the department announced in a release June 16.

Danny Pummill
Danny Pummill, VA’s outgoing acting undersecretary for benefits

Pummill had planned to retire at the end of the last year, the release said. But he stepped into the acting undersecretary position at the request of VA Secretary Bob McDonald when the previous benefits director, Allison Hickey, resigned in October.

“His hands-on approach of making veterans the center of everything we do is exactly what we are all about,” McDonald said of Pummill. “I am saddened to see him go but deeply appreciate that he agreed to stay on and lead VBA as long as he did.”

Acting Principal Deputy Undersecretary Thomas Murphy will assume the position as acting undersecretary for benefits, the VA said.

Pummill began his career with the Veterans Benefits Administration in 2010 after 33 years as an enlisted soldier and five years at the Department of the Army as a civilian employee. He previously served as the deputy director for policy and procedures within VBA’s compensation service, before becoming the director of the VBA/DoD program Office and then principal deputy undersecretary for benefits.

He oversaw VBA’s electronic claims processing system, which the department said is helping the VA make significant strides in cutting down its backlog of disability claims. The VA ended 2015 with 75,000 unprocessed claims, down from its peak of 611,000 in March 2013.

VBA has endured some sharp criticism over the past several years.

Previous reports from the VA inspector general said VBA made more than $85 million in payments to veterans who didn’t have the proper evidence to prove they needed them.

Most recently, the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs was unimpressed with reports that some documents related to veterans’ claims are getting thrown out at VA regional offices.

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