Congress must act on Veterans Affairs accountability

Sep 22, 2017
In The News

Accountability reforms at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are urgently needed to protect veterans, taxpayers — and animals.

Last month, VA Secretary David Shulkin took the rare step of endorsing VA reform legislation after existing rules prevented his agency from immediately firing an employee who was caught watching pornography while with a patient. This is a welcome development.

Just a few days prior, our group — the White Coat Waste Project — filed a complaint with the VA inspector general documenting accountability and transparency failures at the McGuire VA Medical Center in Richmond, Va. Among other things, we outlined how a VA experimenter — who is also a physician at the facility — had repeatedly killed hound puppies by horribly botching surgeries and almost killed another with a sedative overdose and negligent post-op treatment. Internal documents show that one oversight committee member characterized his conduct as “reckless behavior” and “actions [that] threaten the integrity of [the] institution.”

It took almost a year of dog abuse for this inept staffer to be taken off the project and banned from the VA’s animal laboratories — but his excruciatingly painful heart failure experiments on puppies have been allowed to continue.

And here’s the kicker — McGuire VA Medical Center is still allowing this incompetent and “reckless” doctor to perform procedures on veterans. Thankfully, this shameful accountability failure has attracted scrutiny from Republicans and Democrats in Congress.

Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) — a co-sponsor of the bipartisan bill making it easier to fire bad VA employees — told the Military Times, “Just as the VA was held accountable for delivering subpar care to our nation’s veterans, it should answer for the possible abuse of animals and waste of taxpayer funds on haphazard research.”  Similarly, Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.), told the paper, “Taxpayers should not fund experiments that abuse animals or violate the law.”

Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) — a veteran — appeared on national TV calling for an investigation, and Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.) questioned the VA inspector general about the case at a recent House Appropriations VA oversight hearing.

Veterans and other taxpayers deserve better than dog-abusing doctors and precious resources squandered on sloppy and wasteful animal experiments.

To paraphrase Michelle Obama, this is the first time I’ve been proud of my country in a long time.

Having said that, I’m sure President Trump’s haters are reaching for their antacids after seeing him take action against the atrocity committed by the evil dictator President Bashar Assad of Syria.

For eight long years under President Obama we watched numerous foreign countries exterminate their own people with impunity.

Knowing war as I do, being on a 100 percent total permanent disability from the Vietnam War, I understand that those who are armchair warriors who intellectualize war and make reference to what war is all about will crawl out from under their rocks and make up excuses as to why President Trump shouldn’t have used deadly force, but they would be dead wrong.

The fear mongers in the news media are already debating what Russia will do as if we are supposed to fear them. I beg to differ. Obama made sure that we were looked upon as a weak nation by most countries around the world, which couldn’t be further from the truth.