VA volunteer Vanessa Mason, 23, was sentenced to four months in prison Monday after she pleaded guilty to making false claims about a veteran and other issues, including lying to a federal agent and committing fraud.
Mason pleaded guilty Monday to a single count of filing a false public document.
She had faced up to five years in prison for each count.
In court, Mason, of Alexandria, Virginia, testified that she used the VA website to register for services and pay her bills as a volunteer with the Virginia National Guard.
She said she had not been certified to serve in the military and was only there to help other veterans.
Mason had been working for the VA since February.
She also was a volunteer at the VA Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland.
She was arrested and charged with lying to federal agents in November.
The VA said Mason lied to a VA employee about the nature of her employment with the VA and to a Maryland state employee about her service with the Guard.
The Maryland employee was later fired for making false statements about her job with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Mason told the judge she had been trying to help others through the VA, but had found herself overwhelmed and frustrated by the challenges of life as a veteran.
She added that she had a family crisis that led her to lie about her background and employment history.
She apologized for lying to the federal agent, saying she had thought she had no choice but to be truthful.
“I am deeply sorry,” Mason said.
“I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge my mistakes and apologize for them,” Mason added.
“The VA and its staff are the best in the world.
I was never the brightest star on the shining stars.
I am very sorry for the harm I have caused.”
Masonry had already served as a VA volunteer in Virginia for six months and was working as a nurse’s aide at a hospital in Baltimore.
She worked for the Virginia Department of Health and Human Services and was also a volunteer for the Maryland Department of Labor.
The Virginia Department said she did not have a military qualification.
The other charges against Mason were related to the VA’s handling of her complaint about the fake documents.
The VA said it was looking into the matter.
“We are aware of the recent arrest of Vanessa Mason and are cooperating fully with federal law enforcement and our VA partners,” a VA spokesperson said.
“VA takes these matters seriously and takes the safety of our employees, the public and our clients very seriously.”
This story has been updated with additional information.