The following editorial appeared in The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Monday, December 21:
Vows to reform the scandal-plagued Department of Veterans Affairs ring hollow when retaliators against two principal whistle-blowers remain on the payroll a year after an internal report recommended their firing.
Dr. Katherine Mitchell blew the whistle on the infamous secret waiting lists at the Phoenix VA facility, spurring a nationwide uproar. And Paula Pedene, a legally blind public affairs officer, reported the misuse of money at the Phoenix VA hospital. Both endured retaliation for speaking up, The Washington Times reports.
But their alleged retaliators, Dr. Darren Deering, the Phoenix facility’s chief of staff, and Lance Robinson, the hospital’s associate director, never received “appropriate administrative action” as recommended by the internal audit. Dr. Deering remains on the job while Mr. Robinson has been collecting paid leave since May 2014, The Times reports.
The VA says it’s still reviewing “voluminous evidence” — more than a year later.
What’s revealed yet again is a glacially moving, self-preserving bureaucracy that ignores its own recommended corrections while struggling to erase the stigma of shoddy care that’s been attached to it. Even worse, it leaves in place the same inexcusable mindset that deprived health care to Americans who wore their country’s uniform.
And that’s inexcusable.
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