17 VA Scandals Before Trump's Reform Bill
Last Friday, President Donald Trump signed the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017. This bill empowers VA Secretary David Shulkin to fire bad employees. Americans are familiar with some of the horrible wait list scandals, but they may not know the stories of "Candy Land," porn on the job, "ghost panels," or many others.
Here are no fewer than 17 scandals at the VA between 2014 and 2017. A special thanks to Concerned Veterans for America, which helped PJ Media compile this list.
1. Barry Coates.
In January 2014, CNN reported the tragic story of Barry Coates, a South Carolina veteran who waited one full year to get a colonoscopy, and died from colon cancer (in 2016).
Even at that point, CNN reported that 82 veterans had died or were suffering serious injuries from delayed diagnosis or treatment for colonoscopies or endoscopies. As many as 7,000 veterans were on a backlog list at VA facilities in Columbia, S.C. and Augusta, Ga.
2. The Phoenix scandal.
The story which first drew major attention to the wait list scandals was the Phoenix VA scandal. Staff at the Phoenix VA kept secret paper wait lists for veterans who requested appointments, and did not reflect requests in the computer system. Veterans waited on these lists for weeks or months to be seen by a doctor, while the delays were conveniently left out of the electronic scheduling system. As many as 40 veterans died.
Sharon Helman, the director at the Phoenix VA, was not fired until six months after the scandal broke, and during that time she collected pay on leave. Helman pled guilty to a felony during the proceedings, but she later appealed her firing to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). In May 2017, the Appeals Court for the Federal Circuit ruled her firing unconstitutional on a technicality.
The law Trump signed last Friday addressed the technicality, preventing similar ruling sin the future.