Arlington, VA – A newly-released report from the Office of the Inspector General confirms that as early as last year cockroaches were pervasive throughout the Hines Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facility in Illinois – and that senior leadership there knew and did nothing.
The report confirms that veterans found cockroaches in and around their food. It also notes that the Hines facility had conditions “favorable to pest infestation.”
Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) Policy Director Dan Caldwell issued the following statement:
“It’s disgraceful that American veterans seeking medical care were surrounded by cockroaches while VA officials stood idly by. It’s nearly impossible to get terminated at the VA, so employees have very little incentive to follow the rules and many simply stop caring about doing their jobs. Congress needs to act quickly to give Secretary Shulkin the ability to get these negligent officials out and clean up this toxic culture.”
Sharon Helman, the former director of the Phoenix VA who oversaw the infamous wait list manipulation scandal during her tenure, previously served as director at the Hines VA. In a span of five years, the Hines VA facility had ten different directors, including Helman.
CVA supports the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017, a bipartisan bill introduced by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL). The bill will reduce the time it takes to fire bad employees at the VA, give Secretary Shulkin the ability to recoup bonuses awarded to employees who are found to have engaged in misconduct, and reduce the pensions of VA employees found guilty of felonies related to their employment at the VA. The bill ensures that VA employees who are terminated will not remain on the VA payroll while appealing their terminations and will also increase protections for whistleblowers to help ensure that they are not retaliated against for speaking up about wrongdoings at the department.
The VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act will be marked up by the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee later this afternoon.