June 12, 2014
Lanham, Md. – Officials announced today the Federal Bureau of Investigation is beginning to review records at the Phoenix VA for potential criminal wrongdoing.
Phoenix was the first location whistleblowers exposed manipulation of appointment schedules and claims veterans had died while waiting for care. The VA scandal includes more than 40 hospitals and at least 120,000 veterans experiencing improper delays. The VA Inspector General’s audit proceeds in 69 different medical facilities. In its preliminary report of its audit last week, the VA stated 13 percent of VA schedulers said they were told to falsify appointment-request dates to give the impression that wait times were shorter than they really were in order to receive performance bonuses.
“AMVETS fully supports the criminal prosecution of all who are found to have dishonored the Department of Veterans Affairs by believing they were not actually accountable to the veterans they were there to serve, and the American people,” said Stewart Hickey, AMVETS National Executive Director. “We are pleased the administration is moving in this direction and anticipate it will run its full course.”
“VA easily gets distracted by ‘shiny objects’ and is notoriously slow to act. It is imperative the administration is not diverted by this investigation and continues its focus to further adopt viable solutions that truly fix the VA’s deep-seated systemic problems. Keeping the quality care of veterans within the VA system is the top priority. AMVETS provided recommendations to the VA to bring much needed solutions to the table. Our nation’s veterans deserve access to a health-care system that puts their needs first,” added Hickey.
FBI Director James Comey would not say whether their investigation would be expanded beyond the initial allegations at the Phoenix medical facility, but said the FBI was “working with the VA IG and will follow this wherever the facts take us.”