Veterans fighting back over power of attorney []

November 17, 2014

Article and video as it appeared on

ROCKY HILL, Conn. (WTNH)– Lawmakers are now looking at an issue the News 8 investigators have been looking into for six months, the state’s power of attorney agreement.

“It’s like signing your soul to the devil,” said Vietnam veteran Robin Reiss.

The last time we saw Reiss he was at the Rocky Hill Veterans facility, asking the Department of Veteran Affairs to give him control of his own finances.

“I sure wouldn’t do it again,” said Reiss. “No way in hell.”

The Department of Veteran Affairs has what is called “power of attorney” over Reiss, a legal term that means, basically, they decide how his money is spent.

“Since she’s been my power of attorney my life has been worse instead of better,” said Reiss.

For Reiss and others it was a Department of Veteran Affairs employee, not a mental health professional, who had them sign over their rights.

“I was sound asleep; she came and woke me up,” said Reiss. “I was heavily medicated.”

It’s that allegation that now has the attention of state lawmakers.

“Did they do it? I’m not sure, but if it happened, that is wrong, wrong, wrong,” said Republican Tony Guglielmo.

Guglielmo is part of the panel investigating how the state takes over power of attorney.

“Would you want somebody else controlling your money? Not too many adults would,” said Reiss. “They would be furious about it.”

Reiss says Commissioner Schwartz offered to remove the power of attorney, but left office before it happened. We went to ask her about it but she refused comment.

Since our last report, Schwartz has been sued over the power of attorney issue. She didn’t want to answer any questions while the case is making its way through court.

Schwartz is now heading to Washington as the Assistant Secretary for Policy and Planning for the Federal VA. We asked current Commissioner Joseph Perkins for an interview, but he declined.