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Senator’s Report on VA Hospitals Explores Widespread Problems

A new report based on a year-long investigation of the VA healthcare system suggests that problems go far beyond improper scheduling practices. “Friendly Fire: Death, Delay and Dismay,” released today by the office of Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma), details a widespread culture of manipulation and incompetence at the VA, made worse by a troubling lack of oversight.

According to the report, the Department of Veterans Affairs has failed to live up to its motto, a quotation from Abraham Lincoln: “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan.” Coburn, a physician, said that more than 1,000 veterans may have needlessly died in the past ten years because of VA misconduct.

“This reports shows the problems at the VA are worse than anyone imagined. The scope of the VA’s incompetence – and Congress’ indifferent oversight – is breathtaking and disturbing,” he said in a press release. “As is typical with any bureaucracy, the excuse for not being able to meet goals is a lack of resources. But this is not the case at the VA where spending has increased rapidly in recent years.”

Among other key findings, the report details disturbing misbehavior that is common among VA employees. From the summary:

Bad employees are rewarded with bonuses and paid leave while whistleblowers, health care providers, and even veterans and their families are subjected to bullying, sexual harassment, abuse, and neglect.  For example, female patients received unnecessary pelvic and breast exams from a sex offender, a noose was left on the desk of a minority employee by a co-worker, and a nurse who murdered a veteran harassed the family of the deceased to get them to admit guilt for the death.

It also details $20 billion in wasteful spending that could have been put to better use caring for veterans, and suggests that the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, which has only held two oversight hearings in the last four years, is not doing its job properly.

By: Avery Kleinman
Beth Daley Impact Fellow, POGO

Avery Kleinman Avery Kleinman is the Beth Daley Impact Fellow for the Project On Government Oversight.

Topics: Government Accountability

Related Content: Veterans Affairs, Congressional Oversight

Authors: Avery Kleinman

Submitted by Poppac at: June 30, 2014
I was a VA doctor who testified before congress twice (2006 & 2007) re patient abuse and blatant corruption. The Senator is "right on" in his assertions. And I sincerely hope that he makes some effort to hold the wrongdoers accountable. In addition to repairing the broken system we need to punish the scoundrels who broke it.
Submitted by Vet Butchered by VA at: June 29, 2014
My life is almost over thanks to a VA but I am grateful the country and it's Veterans now have a voice! It's a shame what people at the VA has gotten away with for years!
Submitted by Ike at: June 28, 2014
I agree. I saw some of this stuff when I worked there for 6 Months.
Submitted by housecat at: June 28, 2014
Interesting,that now the country has just become aware of the suffering of veterans.The ''peacocks''in the country has been prospering off the backs of veterans.I wonder how many bonuses were given to the rating board to deny ''just compensation''to Vietnam Veterans.
Submitted by Joyce at: June 28, 2014
I worked at the va in providence for. 12 years . The statement by the office of senator Coburn is absolutely correct . Incompetence is rewarded and the advocates and supporters of the veterans were denigrated and in my case forced out of the va by the primary care chief because I would speak out about the abuses I saw at the VA. I think the VA is doomed it is too big and the culture of greed and corruption is well entrenched
Submitted by james at: June 28, 2014
You want to see a screwed up program go to ptsd program at VAMC Dublin, Ga.
Submitted by PATCH at: June 28, 2014
AS A VETERAN BEING TREATED BY THE VA, THE DELAYS FOR HELP AND FOR DOCTORS TO OFFER BANDAIDS FOR PROBLEMS RATHER THAN TRYING TO GET TO THE SOURCE OF THE PROBLEMS IS WHAT IS TYPICAL WITH THEIR MEDICAL SERVICES.

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