Former DC VA Director Who Jeopardized Veterans’ Health Back With VA
This country has made a commitment to care for the men and women of our armed services that were disabled or injured in the line of duty. However, the DC VA has repeatedly failed to meet this obligation. Now, the former DC VA Director, who was found to have jeopardized veterans’ health while leading the medical facility, is back on the VA’s payroll after a ruling by the Merit Systems Protections Board (MSPB) blocked his dismissal.
Brian Hawkins was fired last week after a second investigation found he was emailing his wife sensitive VA information during his time as director of the DC VA. This came on the heels of another scathing Inspector General report that detailed shocking findings under his leadership. According to the report, veterans were put at an “unnecessary risk” due to “the highest levels of chaos” at the facility.
It is unacceptable for a VA employee to be retained whose negligence and misconduct led to inexcusable lapses in care at one of the largest VA medical facilities in the country. The Washington Post reports on the crisis the DC VA was under:
“In one instance, the hospital ran out of dialysis bloodlines and had to borrow them from another facility. In another case, a nurse said she was unable to find tubes to insert into a patient’s nose to provide oxygen during an emergency.
“We have not seen anything quite like this at a VA facility,” Missal [The VA Inspector General] said in April. “They have no inventory system. They don’t know what they have or what they are going to need.”
That was only a portion of the Inspector General’s findings that led to Hawkins being reassigned to another position in the VA. After all of this, an unaccountable “federal panel” claims Hawkins cannot be fired. This shows why the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act was so desperately needed. Unions have incredible power with the MSPB and will fight tooth and nail to prevent a government employee’s firing–even if they engage in blatant delinquency.
Despite this, Secretary Shulkin has vowed to fight the MSPB’s ruling. In a statement, Shulkin declared:
“No judge who has never run a hospital and never cared for our nation’s Veterans will force me to put an employee back in a position when he allowed the facility to pose potential safety risks to our Veterans. Protecting our Veterans is my most important responsibility.”
It should not be controversial that the VA should be able to fire this employee. The VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act was passed earlier this year to help prevent instances like this from occurring. Secretary Shulkin needs to use the authority granted to him by this legislation and protect veterans from bad employees.
Our veterans deserve better than the failed leadership of Brian Hawkins. If our country is to deliver the care we promise our veterans, employees who engage in this misconduct should not be protected by a federal panel of three people–but fired without delay.