VA Stonewalls Congress Over Deaths of 40 Vets

by Freddy Groves

 

Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Committee on Veterans

Affairs, has called for a complete investigation into the travesty of the

40 veterans who died while awaiting care at the Department of Veterans

Affairs medical center in Phoenix. In his statement, Miller wrote of

the “growing pattern of preventable veteran deaths and patient safety

incidents at VA medical centers across the country,” and specifically

mentions Atlanta; Columbia, S.C.; Augusta, Ga.; Pittsburgh; and Memphis.

A week later, Miller wrote directly to VA chief Eric Shinseki about the

delay in preserving evidence of “secret” wait lists at the Phoenix VA. He

cited several witnesses to the fact that paper lists were shredded, and he

had requested more specific information about the who, what and when of

it. He got nada — even though he’d made a request for the preservation

of the documents as far back as April 9. It turns out the VA’s general

counsel hadn’t passed along the request for eight days … plenty of time

to shred a lot of documents.

 

Miller is someone to watch. A few months ago, he launched a program called

the VA Honesty Project, which is “designed to highlight the Department of

Veterans Affairs’ lack of transparency with the press, and by extension,

with the public.” He pointed out that the VA has 54 full-time employees

who are tasked with handling media requests … or ignoring them, as the

case may be.

 

Miller’s project documents 70 cases so far in which the VA failed to

respond to questions, saying that the VA’s “media avoidance strategy can’t

be anything other than intentional.” The Veterans committee itself has

been waiting on more than 100 information requests dating back to 2012.

To view the evidence, see: http://veterans.house.gov/VAHonestyProject.

 

Freddy Groves regrets that he cannot personally answer reader questions,

but will incorporate them into his column whenever possible. Send email to

columnreply2@gmail.com.

 

(c) 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.

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