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VA Employees Stealing Drugs Underscores Urgent Need for Accountability

By Concerned Veterans for America

Arlington, VA – A recently-released GAO report exposes employee drug theft problems continuing to worsen at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA’s own data indicates there has been a sharp increase in opioid theft, missing prescriptions or unauthorized drug use by employees since 2009. In addition, recent audits expose that four VA hospitals have skipped monthly drug stock inspections and have missed other routine requirements.

As a result, federal authorities are stepping up investigations at VA facilities nationwide. Next week, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs’ Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing entitled “Assessing VA’s Risks for Drug Diversion.”

Concerned Veterans for America Policy Director Dan Caldwell issued the following statement:

Under current law, the process of firing VA employees who steal drugs or engage in criminal acts can take months or even years. With a new VA Secretary and Congress in place, now is the time to move on urgently-needed accountability measures that would help end the toxic culture that allows for these situations to take place. The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs investigation into this issue will be a good first step toward exposing the scope of this scandal, but we urge elected officials to take swift action to pass common-sense VA accountability reform as soon as possible this year. If a VA employee is caught stealing medicine intended for American heroes on the taxpayers’ dime, he or she needs to be terminated quickly – period.”

Earlier this month in Little Rock, three employees were charged with conspiring to steal prescription medications, including opioids, over six months after the Department became aware of the misconduct.

CVA urges Congress to pass the VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act, which would make it easier to fire bad VA employees and help prevent situations like this.