By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Saturday, July 5, U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R) from Montgomery emailed constituents an update on the growing VA scandal concerning bureaucrats and other VA employees systematically falsifying records while denying veterans the care that they were due as a benefit for their service.
Congresswoman Roby said in her written statement, “As you know, my office has been working to get to the bottom of the myriad problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), both at the national and local level. The detail and plausibility of the information we have received from sources is alarming. It is also consistent with the reports being gathered by independent investigators.”
Rep. Roby continued, “That’s why I have made an official request for VA records and data specific to the many allegations we have received from veterans, veteran family members, or those with knowledge of happenings within the Central Alabama VA. I’m seeking information on employee terminations, employee bonuses, physician personnel lists, medical treatment data, financial statements, and records for certain procedures such as X-RAY tests.”
Rep. Roby said, “I am very concerned that a pattern of neglect and mismanagement within the VA, and in particular in Central Alabama, has put my veteran constituents at risk. Hopefully information gleaned from these records will shed more light on some of the disturbing stories we have heard lately. Unfortunately, I believe what the media is currently reporting is just the tip of the iceberg. I will continue to keep you updated on our efforts.”
CBS News’s Wyatt Andrews is reporting that according to information CBS News obtained from the House Veterans Affairs Committee showed that $2.8 million in bonuses going to senior Veteran Affairs executives, with several going to officials in charge while care was delayed for veterans. The director of the VA in Phoenix, Sharon Helman, received $9000 even though 18 patients died while on secret lists waiting for appointments. Helman has since been suspended and her bonus was rescinded.
The acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Sloan Gibson, said on Thursday that a new audit shows during the past month (while the nation has been focused on the VA scandal) the number of veterans who had to wait at least 90 days for their first appointment fell from 57,000 to 46,000.
The Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Rep. Jeff Miller (R) from Florida said that a, “Culture of complacency that is jeopardizing patient safety within the Department of Veterans Affairs health care system. VA’s widespread and systemic lack of accountability is exacerbating all of its most pressing problems, including the department’s stubborn disability benefits backlog and a mounting toll of preventable deaths – including 23 recent fatalities due to delays in care – at VA medical centers across the country. While the vast majority of the department’s more than 300,000 employees and executives are dedicated and hard-working, VA’s well-documented reluctance to ensure its leaders are held accountable for negligence and mismanagement is tarnishing the reputation of the organization and may actually be encouraging more veteran suffering instead of preventing it.”
Chairman Miller told CBS News, “I think that we’re gonna find the more we investigate, you’re gonna see where folks decided that they were going to try to game the system, fudge the numbers, if you will, cook the books, in order to get bonuses.”
Congresswoman Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District.