While the Department of Veterans Affairs has a failing record on getting veterans the healthcare desperately needed, the agency appears to be much more adept at retaliating against whistleblowers.
According to four whistleblowers who testified Tuesday before the House, retaliation was widespread when pointing out wrongdoing at the agency, Fox News reported.
The whistleblowers said among other things, the reprisals included harassment and being placed on leave, according to Fox News.
The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee was holding a hearing to look into 67 claims of retaliation — 25 filed since June 1.
Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner told lawmakers the complaints were filed in 28 states at 45 facilities.
Fox News reported:
The independent Office of Special Counsel said 30 of the complaints about retaliation have passed the initial review stage and were being further investigated for corrective action and possible discipline against VA supervisors and other executives.
In a prepared written statement, Lerner said “too often the VA has failed to use the information provided by whistleblowers as an early warning system. Instead, in many cases, the VA has ignored or attempted to minimize problems, allowing serious issues to fester and grow.”
Fox News provided some examples of the alleged retaliation:
Scott Davis, a program specialist at the VA’s Health Eligibility Center in Atlanta, said he was placed on involuntary leave after reporting that officials were “wasting millions of dollars” on a direct mail marketing campaign to promote ObamaCare.
Davis also reported the possible purging and deleting of at least 10,000 veterans’ health records at the Atlanta center, and said more records and documents could be deleted or manipulated to mask a major backlog and mismanagement…
Another witness, Dr. Christian Head, works in the Legal and Quality Assurance department of the Greater Los Angeles VA Health Care System. Head said at one point, he was charged with investigating allegations of time card fraud. After reporting his findings, he said he was humiliated in front of hundreds of employees and labeled a “rat.”
“Retaliation culture is a cancer to the VA,” said Dr. Head.
U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the committee, spoke in support of those who took the risk of coming forward.
“Unlike their supervisors, these whistleblowers have put the interests of veterans before their own,” Miller said. “They understand that metrics and measurements mean nothing without personal responsibility.”
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