Federal committee looks into retaliation practices in VA system

A federal committee is hoping to improve accountability in the Veterans Administration system.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee heard personal accounts from whistle blowers Tuesday on retaliation happening in the VA system, including the Tomah VA. Several investigations found the Tomah VA was over prescribing opiates to its patients and retaliating against employees who spoke out against the clinic.

One of the people who spoke at the hearing was the brother of Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick, a psychologist who committed suicide after he was fired from the Tomah VA medical Center in 2009. Kirkpatrick was one of the employees who raised issues with the VA’s prescription practices.

The head of the committee, Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, says it’s now time to take action.

“We will be working on legislation that I think we’ll be able to find agreement on. I don’t think there’s a senator on the committee that wasn’t outraged by this level of retaliation, that doesn’t want to inact a type of legislation that will hold those individuals accountable,” said Sen. Johnson.

Of the cases of retaliation the committee hears about, 35 percent of them come from the Veterans Administration.