Veteran with MS sounds alarm on contractors recommended by VA
He filed a lawsuit against the contractor and reached a settlement. He was quickly able to determine that the contractor was licensed under a different name.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - After serving multiple tours in Iraq, Brandon Faircloth came home to Lexington, NC to face a new challenge.
“I served in Iraq 2009-2010 and started showing symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis,” Faircloth told WBTV.
Faircloth said the disease progressed rapidly, taking his ability to walk but also making him eligible for a special grant from the VA called a Special Adapted Housing Grant.
“I qualified for that grant and from my experience, the people that qualify for that grant are typically Multiple Sclerosis, ALS, spinal cord injuries and these are people that are in really bad shape,” Faircloth said.
The grant was for about $70,000 to expand Faircloth’s bathroom and bedroom to make them wheelchair accessible. Faircloth said the VA even recommended a contractor to do the job, Travis and Michael’s Construction Service.
But Faircloth said the project went south quickly.
“When they went bad, they went real bad. The contractor demolished half of my home and quit when I complained about hey, ‘you’re not doing anything, you’re failing inspections’ he quit,” Faircloth said.
Faircloth filed a lawsuit against the contractor and reached a settlement. He was quickly able to determine that the contractor was licensed under a different name. In North Carolina it is illegal to operate under a different business name than the one registered with the North Carolina Licensing Board of General Contractors. The contractor eventually had his license revoked after another customer’s complaint to the licensing board.
Faircloth turned his attention back to the VA.
“You (The VA) recommended him. You gave me his business card standing in my house. I never would have heard of this guy if it wasn’t for you,” Faircloth said.
A recent announcement from the USDOJ brought this issue back into focus for Faircloth.
Prosecutors announced that a VA employee in Fayetteville was sentenced to 24 months in prison for conspiring to accept bribe payments from a contractor. The VA employee worked as an agent for the Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant program.
“That’s really where my interest came in all of this cause some people that they were taking advantage of, many of them have no voice,” Faircloth said.
WBTV reached out to the VA about how they’re protecting veterans in their grant program. In response a spokesperson the grant recipients choose their own contractor and “further involvement by VA could result in Veterans being restricted from their contractor of choice.”
Additionally the VA’s loan guaranty service service reviews grant actions as well as conducts annual training with the agents which includes ethics.
The VA spokesperson also said the VA now sends out two letters to all applicants for the SAH grant program saying that VA does not endorse, nor recommend any specific contractor.
Part of why Faircloth reached out to us is because another case similar to his caught his eye. A VA employee in Fayetteville who ran the grant program there was sentenced to 24 months in prison for accepting bribes from a contractor related to this program. He wants to make sure other veterans are looking out for themselves if they’re going after this grant.
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