By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
After telling U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R) from Montgomery that the VA Employees involved in the waiting list scandal were terminated, it has been revealed that Central Alabama VA Director James Talton may have misled the Congresswoman.
In response to the growing VA scandal that has revealed that Talton’s facility is actually one of the worst in the country at denying veterans their benefits, Representative Martha Roby is dispatching top members of her staff to Alabama to field information related to the ongoing problems with the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System (CAVHCS).
Chief of Staff Stephen Boyd and Military Legislative Counsel Mac Tolar will work out of Rep. Roby’s Montgomery, Ala. office for several days next week taking meetings with those wishing to convey specific information regarding the situation at CAVHCS. Rep. Roby decided to dispatch top advisers to gather information that will better inform her perspective after it was revealed that the employees who falsified the records were still on the job despite assurances that they had been fired.
Rep. Roby said, “The more that has been publicly revealed about the VA, the more my office hears from individuals who want to share information regarding the situation in Montgomery. My District Director and our Alabama-based staff have seen an exceedingly high influx of comments and concerns. I am sending my Chief of Staff and my Military Legislative Counsel to Montgomery to provide a specific opportunity for face to face meetings with those who believe they have important information or documents about the VA. The purpose is to improve our understanding of what is happening so that I can conduct responsible oversight and take the necessary legislative steps to correct this problem.”
Rep. Roby wrote to constituents over the weekend, “Seven days ago I was encouraged to learn of actions taken by the Director of the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System to report incidents of malfeasance and hold the employees accountable for wrongdoing. But now, a week later, I am disturbed and disheartened after discovering that the so-called action didn’t really happen.”
Rep. Roby continued, “When our local VA director asked me for a meeting to discuss the situation, I was eager to hear what he said. The director made it clear to me and my staff that those responsible for falsifying wait list records in Central Alabama were no longer working at the VA, due in part to action he took to remove them…As has been reported by the Montgomery Advertiser and the Associated Press, it turns out that wasn’t true. No one was fired. Some retired and others may have been moved around, but no one was removed. That means employees responsible for falsifying wait list records are still working at the VA in Alabama.”
Rep. Roby continued, “The director later apologized for what he called a misunderstanding of him repeatedly saying employees were ‘relieved of their duties.’ I don’t think there was a misunderstanding at all. Based on the unmistakable tenor of the conversation, I think it was misleading.”
Rep. Roby said, “This breach of trust has caused my office to dig even deeper into what is really going on at the VA in Montgomery. I believe there is more to this story. This week I am dispatching top staff members – my Chief of Staff and my Military Legislative Counsel – to Alabama to field information and provide a specific opportunity for face to face meetings with those who believe they have important information or documents about the VA.”
Rep. Roby said that in response to the growing scandal, the House passed the Veteran’s Access to Care Act by a vote of 421-0. Rep. Roby said, “This bill allows any veteran forced to wait more than 30 days for an appointment the option to receive private-sector care. The Senate also acted on broader VA legislation, part of which related to utilizing local healthcare options.”
Rep. Roby said, “This kind of cover-your-own-back mentality is precisely the problem at the VA. Remember that the issue at hand is the falsification of records to hide poor performance. For Director Talton to give the false impression that appropriate action had been taken when it actually had not is emblematic of the backward priorities within the VA bureaucracy.”
Rep. Roby said, “This breach of trust has caused my office to dig even deeper into what is really going on in Montgomery. I believe there is more to this story.”
The Veterans Administration has over 300,000 employees and runs a chain of over 150 hospitals across the country that are charged with caring for America’s veterans.
Rep. Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Sixth Congressional District.