Monday, April 27, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

VA acting chief: retaliation will not be tolerated

By
From page A10 | June 07, 2014 |

Sloan Gibson

Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan Gibson speaks to the media during a visit to the Audie L. Murphy VA Medical Center, Friday, June 6, 2014, in San Antonio. Gibson warned VA administrators on Friday that intimidation or retaliation against anyone who calls attention to problems within the veterans' health system will not be tolerated. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

SAN ANTONIO — Investigators said they are examining allegations that supervisors in the veterans’ health system retaliated against 37 employees who complained about practices such as falsified records used to cover up months-long delays in scheduling appointments. The acting VA chief said such reprisals would not be tolerated.

“I think that is wrong. It is absolutely unacceptable,” Acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Sloan Gibson said Friday.

“There have been questions raised about intimidation or even retaliation. There is a law that forbids that, and we’ll follow the law,” Gibson said at a news conference Friday following a visit to a San Antonio VA facility.

His comments came after the Office of Special Counsel said it was looking into possible retaliation against 37 employees of the VA who filed so-called “whistleblower” complaints. The office is an independent watchdog separate from the VA which looks into whistleblower complaints from across the federal government.

But one of the 37 who complained of reprisals, Brian Turner, said he is not reassured by Gibson’s vow to discipline those who retaliated. Turner, who works at North Central Federal Clinic in San Antonio, said he was intimidated by his supervisors for complaining that scheduling clerks in Austin, San Antonio and Waco were regularly told to enter false information to make it appear that wait times for appointments were far shorter than they really were.

“I don’t care about what (Gibson) said. I want to see action,” Turner told the Associated Press in an interview Friday.

The Office of Special Counsel said it had blocked disciplinary actions against three VA employees who had complained, including one who was suspended for seven days after complaining to the VA’s inspector general about improper scheduling.

The agency also blocked a 30-day suspension without pay for another VA employee who reported inappropriate use of patient restraints and blocked demotion of a third employee who reported mishandling of patient care funds.

The complaints about retaliation against whistleblowers came from 28 VA facilities in 18 states and Puerto Rico, the special counsel’s office said Friday. About half the 37 complaints have come in the last two months, or after allegations about treatment delays of up to three months for veterans and secret waiting lists first surfaced.

The disclosures have set off a furor in Washington, forcing the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki last week, and prompting Congress to consider legislation to make it easier for treatment of veterans outside the government-funded VA.

Gibson, who has stepped in as acting secretary, apologized on Friday for the VA’s failures and said he is doing everything he can to fix the system.

“We have lost an awful lot of trust, and we’ve got work to do to earn it back,” Gibson said. “With veterans, we’ll do that one veteran at a time by reaching out to veterans that have been waiting too long (for care) and saying, ‘You’ve been waiting, I want to get you in the clinic. When can you come in?'”

Some veterans whose names were kept off the official electronic appointment list have died, and Gibson said on Thursday that he would ask the inspector general to look into 18 more cases of deaths to see if there is any indication they were related to long wait times. The 18 are in addition to 17 deaths reported last month.

The 18 veterans who died were among 1,700 veterans identified in a report last week by the VA’s inspector general as being “at risk of being lost or forgotten.” The investigation also found broad and deep-seated problems with delays in patient care and manipulation of waiting lists throughout the VA health care system, which provides medical care to about 9 million veterans and family members.

Gibson said in San Antonio that he has been in daily contact with Richard Griffin, the VA’s acting inspector general, and he expressed confidence that Griffin and his investigators will be able to ferret out the truth, regardless of any attempts to squelch potential whistleblowers.

VA whistleblower Turner, a veteran himself who has worked for the VA since 2011 as a medical support assistant, said until the VA’s management is restructured and supervisors who were responsible for causing or ignoring the problems are removed, nothing will change and employees who may wish to come forward to report other problems will be discouraged from doing so.

“I will not stop. I will not waver in my actions until they make drastic improvements,” he said.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Vacaville eyes ban on medical marijuana grows

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1

 
County action speeds Solano fairgrounds plan to next phase

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Paint the Town Purple; and Roxie

By Tony Wade | From Page: A2

 
Farmers markets herald return of summer

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
City Coach hosts first block party

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Bid Corderos Park, city staff recommends

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

 
White minister fought for civil rights in the south

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Denim and Diamonds fundraiser set May 16

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

 
Crash claims life of Concord teen

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

Biz Buzz: Committee schedules contractors breakfast

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: B7

 
Biz Buzz: Budweiser kicks off new parks campaign

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B7

Biz Buzz: Dutch Bros. plans ALS fundraiser

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B7

 
Biz Buzz: Company schedules pasta class

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B7

 
Biz Buzz: NorthBay offers extended hours for primary care

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Biz Buzz: Retail store helps those with autism

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B7

.

US / World

Picture it: A 1,000-year exposure showing a changing Earth

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Quake agony revealed quietly on trip from Nepal airport

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Corinthian Colleges to shut down all 28 remaining campuses

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

No time to lose: Global response to Nepal quake gears up

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Japan’s prime minister goes to US to showcase close ties

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Israel says airstrike on Syrian border targeted militants

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Family, friends in Baltimore mourn death of arrested man

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

‘Batman’ killer studied brain disorders before mass murder

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Image from the quake: Heavy damage in Nepal ancient city

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Fighting rages in Yemen’s 3rd-largest city, strikes continue

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Mountaineers, guides stream from Everest after avalanche

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Putin accuses US of supporting separatists in Russia

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Death toll in Nepal quake rises to more than 3,200

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Late spring complicates already perilous amphibian migration

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: April 27, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in history: Monday, April 27, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Horoscope: April 28, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

 
Parenting: How to set boundaries on screen time

By The Washington Post | From Page: B5

Horoscope: April 27, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A7

 
My husband doesn’t want me to redecorate home he had with first wife

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A7

.

Entertainment

TVGrid April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
TVGrid April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

.

Sports

Warriors confident after sweep of Pelicans

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Giants-Rockies game postponed by rain

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
American Pharoah completes final pre-Kentucky Derby workout

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Newgarden claims first IndyCar Series win not far from home

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Justin Rose wins in New Orleans for 7th PGA Tour title

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Wall, Beal lead Wiz past Raptors 125-94 in Game 4 for sweep

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Paul, Clippers even series with 114-105 win over Spurs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Ko wins Swinging Skirts for 2nd straight year

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Motorcycle rider from Livermore killed in Nevada race

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Billy Andrade and Joe Durant win Legends of Golf

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Cavs sweep Celts as James scores 27 in 101-93 victory

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
It’s here: Fight week begins with Pacquiao caravan to Vegas

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

.

Business

.

Obituaries

Elizabeth Cepeda

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Kirk Noonan

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

Sandra King

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Janis Ruth (Sefzik) Skinner

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Baby Blues April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Zits April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Pickles April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Rose is Rose April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Get Fuzzy April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Dilbert April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

B.C. April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Blondie April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Frank and Ernest April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Wizard of Id April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Peanuts April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baldo April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Garfield April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Beetle Bailey April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

For Better or Worse April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Sally Forth April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Bridge April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Cryptoquote April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Word Sleuth April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Crossword April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Sudoku April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Sally Forth April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

B.C. April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Garfield April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Beetle Bailey April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Blondie April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Get Fuzzy April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Pickles April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Wizard of Id April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Baldo April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Rose is Rose April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
For Better or Worse April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Zits April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Frank and Ernest April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Peanuts April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Dilbert April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Baby Blues April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Cryptoquote April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Word Sleuth April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Sudoku April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Bridge April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Crossword April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7