No Discipline for “Forum of Hate” Undermines Need for VA Accountability First Act
Arlington, VA – Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) administrative law judges (ALJs), attorneys and managers who were caught engaging in a “Forum of Hate” (FOH) at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have still not been disciplined or terminated – over a year later.
The forum included egregiously offensive rhetoric directed towards upper VA management, as well as administrative employees, targeting minorities. The BVA judges who are theoretically in charge of impartially weighing whether veterans should get disability compensation were caught using their government accounts while on the clock to post inflammatory comments to the “Forum of Hate.”
Last week the House of Representatives voted 237-178 in favor of the VA Accountability First Act of 2017, H.R. 1259, a bill which would make it easier and faster to discipline and terminate bad VA employees such as those who engaged in this forum.
Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) Policy Director Dan Caldwell issued the following statement:
“There is no reason why it should take over a year to discipline VA employees who verbally abuse veterans while American taxpayers pay them to do the opposite. Unfortunately, this ‘forum of hate’ exemplifies the deeply toxic culture that has festered at the VA for years. There are countless instances where VA employees have engaged in bad, even criminal, behavior and it’s taken months or years to discipline them – or worse, they get off with no penalty whatsoever.
“Veterans deserve to be cared for by quality employees who are fully dedicated to their jobs. Congress has a real opportunity to correct course at the VA right now by passing the VA Accountability First Act of 2017, which would make it easier to get rid of bad VA employees quickly. The House did its job – now the Senate must quickly take up the VA Accountability First Act and pass it without delay.”
If passed, the 2017 VA Accountability First Act would drastically shorten the overall termination and appeals process for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employees who are found to have engaged in misconduct. Currently, that process can take months or even years. The bill also empowers the VA Secretary to recoup bonuses awarded in error or given to employees who were later found to have engaged in misconduct. Additionally, the bill gives the VA Secretary the ability to reduce the pensions of VA employees who are convicted of felonies that influenced their job performance. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced the Senate version of the bill.