A U.S. Army veteran who collected disability benefits for blindness has been placed on three years of probation and ordered to repay the government $70,000 because it turns out he can see, the Associated Press reports.
Billy J. Alumbaugh, a 62-year-old resident of Turon, Kansas, with fully functioning eyeballs, was sentenced in federal court on Sept. 7 after pleading guilty to conspiracy to defraud the government.
Alumbaugh convinced the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Wichita he was blind and homebound back in 2009 and, with a little help from his ex-wife, kept up the ruse until last year. Alumbaugh received monthly pension benefits for his fake disability that entire time.
Fifty-two-year-old Debra Alumbaugh, who pretended to be her ex-husband’s caretaker during medical visits, was sentenced to a year on probation for her role in the scheme.
And they would’ve gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for Alumbaugh’s habit of zipping around town in his automobile. According to The Kansas City Star, Alumbaugh maintained a driver’s license for the duration of the hoax, and drove his car “regularly.”
The couple was finally caught one day last October, when they were seen pulling up to the VA in Wichita with Debra behind the wheel as usual. However, after the visit, something strange happened. A few blocks from the clinic, Debra got out of the car and switched places with her ex-husband so he could drive.
President Donald Trump hands a pen to Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie during a spending bill signing ceremony at VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System, Friday, Sept. 21, 2018, in Las Vegas. (Associated Press/Evan Vucci)
The Trump administration wants to shift billions of dollars from government-run veterans' hospitals to private health care providers. That's true even though earlier this year the administration vehemently denied it would privatize any part of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The privatization of essential government services is nothing new, of course. Over the years, countries have privatized dozens of services and activities that were once the sole domain of governments, such as the provision of electricity and water, road operations and prisons and even health care, with the ostensible aim of making them more efficient.
But before going down that road, the question needs to be asked whether privatizing essential human services such as those for military veterans serves the public interest. New research we recently published suggests that privatization may come at a social cost.
The Coast Guard is officially shit outta luck for a paycheck thanks to the government shutdown, which means that zero coasties have been paid to create some of the amazing memes being shared as a way to vent their frustration.