American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger reacted with serious concern following Thursday night’s Arizona Republic story that a second Phoenix Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care System doctor has stepped forward to corroborate allegations of patient-care failures at the facility.
VA Dr. Katherine Mitchell reported to The Republic that she received a call last Sunday from a VA employee who said records were being destroyed at that very moment at the facility, which is now the subject of VA Inspector General’s investigation into the deaths of as many as 40 veterans whose names were allegedly kept on a secret list and went unreported.
“These shocking allegations, if true, are further proof that something is terribly wrong at the Phoenix VA facility,” said Dellinger, leader of the nation’s largest veterans service organization. “VA Secretary Eric Shinseki has taken the proper steps in placing the facility’s director, associate director and another employee on administrative leave while this investigation is ongoing. But if it is determined that there was willful negligence on the part of the staff that resulted in the deaths of veterans, any ensuing cover-up or destruction of records that could assist in the investigation, employee terminations and criminal charges must be brought against those responsible.
“I also want to acknowledge those who have stepped forward to bring this situation into the public eye – knowing fully that by speaking up, they could be jeopardizing their careers with VA. If allegations of record destruction are proven, their courage and commitment to our nation’s veterans should be commended.”