According to Bloomberg.com, a new VA verification program has rejected almost two-thirds of the more than 7, 200 companies seeking status as being owned by veterans or disabled veterans according to March data.
Local retired Navy SEAL and licensed Class A general Contractor Mark Lilly’s firm, Chesapeake-based Syncon LLC, is one of thousands of small businesses rejected by the VA since the agency stepped up efforts to prevent fraud.
According to the website, the Department of Veterans Affairs questioned whether he had enough experience.
Lilly has received a Purple Heart, a Silver Star and five Bronze Stars after 23 years of service that included combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also oversaw development of military bases overseas.
“It’s really disheartening,” Lilly, who said he was shot twice during the same incident while serving in Afghanistan, said in a telephone interview. “As you go through military retirement, the VA says they encourage you to be an entrepreneur and that they’ll support you the entire time. Now I find out the VA could very well be my demise.” [Quote from Bloomberg.com.]
Lawmakers have expressed concern over the agency’s rejection of veterans. Some say the verification process may be too aggressive.
Lilly said he even invited the VA to visit his work sites, but the department hasn’t taken him up on his offer, he said.
His company has already won several federal contracts. He is in the SBA 8(a) program and he previously had his CVE verification in 2010.
This is the third time he has been turned down, he says, but he has asked the agency to reconsider.
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