Veterans news update for Sept. 9

Veterans news update for Sept. 9

IG let VA officials alter report to absolve agency in Phoenix deaths (Washington Examiner)
Crucial language that the Department of Veterans Affairs inspector general could not “conclusively” prove that delays in care caused patient deaths at a Phoenix hospital was added to its final report after a draft version was sent to agency administrators for comment, the Washington Examiner has learned. The single most compelling sentence in the inspector general’s 143-page final report on fraudulent scheduling practices at the Phoenix veterans’ hospital did not appear in the draft version, according to a staff analysis by the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. It was inserted into the final version, the only one that was released to the public, after agency officials had a chance to comment and recommend revisions.

VA Director outlines plan for fixing veterans’ health care (Wall Street Journal)
The new head of the Department of Veterans Affairs said Monday he is working to streamline the VA’s sprawling bureaucracy, simplify the process for veterans to receive care and hire thousands of new doctors and nurses. Robert McDonald, who was confirmed by the Senate in July as VA secretary, said he wants to foster a culture where whistleblowers feel safe to speak out and employees who contributed to delays in care are disciplined.

Veteran aid official almost gets veteran fired (Dayton Daily News)When a homeless veteran asked his local veteran services office for help last week, the director of the office wrote to the veteran’s employer complaining about his body odor, almost getting him fired.

The latest reason why the VA can’t fire anyone in the VA health care scandal (The Blaze)
Weeks after Congress passed legislation to allow the Veterans Affairs secretary to quickly fire corrupt or inefficient employees, VA Secretary Robert McDonald said he cannot fire anyone until various investigations from inside and outside the VA are completed. McDonald also said he could not offer any timetable for when VA workers might be fired, and said the law does not specifically require anyone to be fired.

VA employees arrested for running coke ring out of VA medical center (The Daily Caller)
Two Veterans Affairs Medical Center employees were arrested last week for using VA facilities to smuggle and deal cocaine, the Department of Justice recently announced. Robert Tucker and Erik Casiano had been using the U.S. Postal Service and the mailroom of a VA Medical Center in the Bronx to receive and distribute cocaine since “at least November 2013,” according to the press release.

New VA secretary gives out his personal cell phone number to reporters (Fox News)
Newly named Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald, in an apparent bid to rebuild public trust, took the unusual step Monday of handing out his personal cell number to every reporter attending a press conference. It’s part of McDonald’s PR push to change how people view the scandal-scarred VA.