As you may know, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has had difficulty keeping its footing over the past few years. Reports of poor working conditions, fraudulent actions by employees and shoddy care have ensured it stays off balance. The end result has been disgruntled and disappointed veterans and Washington officials, and a number of released or demoted employees.
While the VA has made strides to improve its operations – it hired new Inspector General Michael Missal fairly recently – past transgressions may haunt the department for many years to come. And it's something that few, if any, news media outlets are reporting. While all of their focus has been on past and present blunders, less is placed on how these moments could impact the VA down the line.
Take for example, a recent story about a VA nurse, Cheryl Poirrier, who falsified records about a resident veteran. According to The Associated Press, the veteran had been receiving care at the Southeast Louisiana War Veterans Home when he died several hours after he fell. In her report, Poirrier noted that after the veteran fell, she conducted four neurological checks on him. However, surveillance cameras showed otherwise. A statement made by the Louisiana office of Inspector General Stephen Street noted the veteran died eight hours after being placed back into bed.
This incident happened in January 2015 – a full year after Missal vowed to make significant improvements to the VA. While Poirrier was released just a month later, the story continues to linger. As more stories like this surface, it could be difficult for many veterans and Washington officials to turn the page like Missal and others want them to.