At a House hearing last night, several Veterans Administration whistleblowers revealed the disfunctionality of the agency, and the retaliation they suffered when they raised concerns.

MSNBC reports:

Transfers, harassment, altered personnel records, mysterious breaks between paychecks.

Those are just some of the forms of retaliation described by four whistleblowers from four different regional VA systems, who testified Tuesday night before the House Veterans Affairs Committee….

Dr. Katherine Mitchell, who served as the Medical Director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Post-Deployment Center in the Phoenix VA Health Care System, testified on Tuesday that as head of the emergency department, she saw many serious errors due to understaffing, but that her concerns went unaddressed. ”It is a bitter irony to me that I as a physician could not guarantee [patients’] safety in the middle of cosmopolitan Phoenix,” she said. Mitchell said she was placed on involuntary administrative leave and investigated for including some patient information in confidential Inspector General complaints.

Another witness, Dr. Christian Head who worked at the Los Angeles VA, spoke of attending a holiday party after testifying in a fraud case and seeing a Powerpoint slide mocking him, a photo of him giving the camera a middle finger with a VA IG phone number included. “I was labeled a rat,” he said, nearly choking up.

Scott Davis, a worker at the Atlanta Health Eligibility Center, which processes applications to join the VA health system, also described facing harassment after contacting Deputy White House Chief of Staff Rob Nabors, who completed a comprehensive review of VA policies in June. Davis insisted that there be greater accountability for managers who have the power to punish employees who report possible wrongdoing.

AP further reports on the growing number of whistleblower complaints:

Their testimony came as a federal investigative agency said it was examining 67 claims of retaliation by supervisors at the department against employees who filed whistleblower complaints — including 25 complaints filed since June 1 — after a growing health care scandal involving long patient waits and falsified records became public.

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. The complaints were filed in 28 states at 45 facilities, Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner said.

You can watch the entire hearing recorded at C-SPAN.


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