Veterans group offers to protect whistleblowers

A major advocacy group for veterans co-launched a campaign on Thursday to help protect whistleblowers from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of American (IAVA) announced it is working with the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) to help protect VA employees who want to expose corruption and misconduct within the agency. 

The announcement came ahead of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki’s testimony before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill about a series of allegations of wrongdoing at VA facilities nationwide.

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Tom Tarantino, IAVA’s chief policy officer, said in a statement that his group’s members are “outraged” over reports of mismanagement and cooking the books at VA facilities. 

“Secretary Shinseki has finally started to emerge publicly and address these allegations, but short-term, reactive measures will not eradicate the more pervasive problems that are causing veterans to lose faith in the system,” Tarantino said.

The two groups launched a website to assist VA employees who want to file complaints about internal wrongdoing anonymously. 

Whistleblowers are warned not to use a government or contractor phone, fax, or computer to contact POGO for security and anonymity purposes.

The announcement comes as a number of lawmakers are expected to grill Shinseki on numerous allegations of VA misconduct.

The American Legion — the largest veterans advocacy group — and some lawmakers have called on Shinseki to resign.

The White House has defended Shinseki and his record.  

The pressure comes in the wake of one former VA doctor blowing the whistle on a secret waiting list officials at the VA hospital in Phoenix were using. He claimed it led to the deaths of as many as 40 veterans.