In the end, the inspectors charged with finding truth amid the accusations at Philadelphia's Veterans Affairs benefits office confirmed more than they disproved.
Claims were wrongfully manipulated. Veterans' inquiries were ignored. Some benefits were paid twice while others stalled because of neglect.
But their report, released Wednesday after a 10-month probe, was perhaps as stunning for what it lacked: the names of those at fault, and any indication whether or how they might be held accountable.
VA officials insist the office has fixed nearly all the problems and are expected to reinforce that point in a conference call with reporters Monday. But as veterans, legislators, and agency critics call for that accountability, it's clear the scrutiny, and the fallout, won't subside.
"Without question, it is not over," Rep. Jeff Miller (R., Fla.), chairman of the House Committee for Veterans Affairs, said Friday.
This week, his committee will hold a hearing on the Philadelphia office. Miller, chairman since 2011, called the inspector general's findings the most damning report he had seen on a VA benefits office.
About 825,000 veterans in Pennsylvania, South Jersey, and Delaware rely on that office for benefits. It also houses one of the VA's three pension management centers and oversees the distribution of $4.1 billion annually.
The office came under investigation in June and - as a national scandal rocked the agency's health and benefits branches - emerged as among the most scrutinized benefits offices in the country.
VA officials have said that under Diana Rubens, who became director of the Philadelphia facility in July, an at-times toxic relationship between management and staff was improving, leading to better service for veterans.
But the stories of individual claimants and their families still speak to frustration and delays in the process.
In March 2014, Marsha Marcy of Montgomeryville applied for survivor benefits for her now-89-year-old mother. After receiving several identical form letters over the course of a few weeks, she called the office of U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) for help, and she credits his staff with getting her mother's benefits approved in two months, far faster than most cases.
But the form letters - saying her mother's case had been received and would be processed - kept coming. One more arrived in the mail last week.
"I actually laughed. And it's not funny at all," she said. "I laughed and then I thought, 'This just shows the condition of the VA.' "
Alan Fastman of Media said his 84-year-old mother-in-law, Marcia Allenberg, waited nearly two years before her survivor benefits were approved in November. He said that during the delay, Allenberg's life savings dried up, so he and his wife chipped in.
Allenberg's VA payments still don't cover her expenses. And Fastman said he was in another stalled process waiting to be designated Allenberg's custodian so the VA will release the 23 months of retroactive pay she is owed.
"We're not wealthy people," he said. "We try to plan for our own retirement. Now we're left with a choice of having to put that at risk so that Mom can get what she needs."
Philadelphia VA spokeswoman Marisa Prugswan said in a statement the agency wanted to ensure all veterans received the benefits they deserve and would look into the specifics of Allenberg's case.
Many of the problems at the Philadelphia office the inspector general noted can delay claims processing.
Investigators found old cases had been dated as though they were new, meaning some may not have received the expedited processing that was warranted.
They estimated sorters failed to process 6,400 documents deemed unidentifiable, even though many had clues to the sender, such as a phone number or return address.
And they found one VA worker responsible for quality control had routinely doctored benefit forms to cover mistakes made by coworkers. Managers knew and didn't stop the employee, investigators said.
VA officials have convened an investigative board to consider whether any employees should be disciplined. Meanwhile, the agency is sending a team of VA experts from around the country to Philadelphia to help implement the inspector general's recommendations.
Jerry Manar, a deputy director of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, said one of the most daunting challenges would be reengaging a workforce that has been told it is OK to cut corners at the expense of quality. He said many employees could be retrained but those who deny their part should find other employment.
"People who lie . . . they need to find some other occupation away from helping veterans," Manar said. "Because they're not."