AP NEWS

Investigators to visit VA, conduct interviews

October 27, 2017

A team of investigators from the Veterans Affairs Office of the Medical Inspector will visit the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the Roseburg VA’s Eugene clinic next week.

The VA agreed to send the investigators following pressure from U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Springfield. DeFazio testified before Congress two weeks ago that whistle-blowers continue to face retaliation at the VA.

According to a spokeswoman for DeFazio, the investigators will be looking into a range of issues, including medical care, personnel issues and retaliation. The investigators want to talk to any staff members who have concerns, and have told DeFazio they will listen objectively and maintain the anonymity of those who meet with them.

For any staff members who don’t feel comfortable going through official channels at the VA, DeFazio’s office will facilitate a way for people to speak to investigators while protecting their identity. Contact DeFazio’s Eugene office at 541-465-6732, or call toll free, 1-800-944-9603.

The Roseburg VA was in the news two weeks ago, after DeFazio made the VA’s firing of Eugene surgeon Scott Russi the centerpiece of testimony in favor of the Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017. Nationwide, the VA has the largest percentage— 35 percent— of such complaints of any federal agency. DeFazio has said he believes the culture of the VA needs to change at the management level.

The act outlines mandatory punishments for supervisors who retaliate against whistle-blowers. On the first offense, they are to be suspended for at least three days. On the second, they’re fired.

The Roseburg VA has said it fully supports the whistle-blower act.