Senator pledges VA whistle blower protections

Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne Baldwin116th Congress breaks records for women, minority lawmakers Kyrsten Sinema swears in to Congress using copy of Constitution instead of religious book Dems say Trump is defying court order by pushing abstinence programs MORE (D-Wis.) pledged Wednesday to introduce legislation that would protect whistleblowers at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The promise comes after a Tuesday committee hearing where three whistleblowers and a family member of one detailed the retaliation against them after they revealed the abuses and shortcomings at the VA.

“More must be done to change the status quo,” Baldwin said in a press release Wednesday. “We must build a VA that embraces rather than retaliates against whistleblowers who want to improve the system.”

Sean Kirkpatrick, who’s brother Chris committed suicide after being fired from the VA, recommended at the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing that whistle blower protections be extended to cover temporary or probationary employees.

Baldwin’s legislation includes that recommendation.

“We need to ensure that any whistleblower, whether they have been at the VA for ten days, ten months or ten years, has the same protections,” she said.

The legislation would also, according to the release, protect whistleblowers forced to resign due to hostile work conditions; create a training program for supervisors to understand how to protect whistleblowers’ rights; require annual supervisor training; mandate annual employee training on how to treat whistleblower complaints; and instruct agency heads to publish online and display prominently at facilities the whistleblower rights and how to file a whistleblower complaint.