The House Veterans' Affairs Committee held a hearing last night examining the VA's shortcomings in appropriately responding to information provided by whistleblowers, and into claims that whistleblowers within the VA face negative repercussions for stepping forward. The hearing comes shortly after the Office of Special Counsel raised new concerns over the VA's response to whistleblower allegations relating to patient care and safety. Congressman Mike Michaud (D-ME), Ranking Member on the Committee, issued the following statement:
"I'm glad we have had the opportunity to hear directly from whistleblowers -- dedicated professionals who stood up and spoke out when they saw something wrong happening around them. The VA for far too long has condoned a culture of retaliation and intimidation regarding whistleblowers. I applaud Acting Secretary Gibson's promise to change the VA's culture. But, changing the culture of the second-largest federal agency will not be easy.
"This will not be accomplished by words alone. Talk is cheap and real solutions are hard to find. I am hopeful that last night's hearing is a step toward finding these solutions to ensure that after the spotlight is turned off, VA is fully living up to its commitment to care for our veterans. This is a process that will require the hard work of every single VA employee to ensure that VA instills a true culture of accountability and that there is zero tolerance for any act of retaliation or intimidation."