VA affirms commitment and attentiveness to achieving justice for veterans
Sep 08 2016
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) – member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee – this week called attention to the recent cases of sexual abuse against veterans in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Eastern Kansas Health Care System during a committee hearing with senior VA officials. Sen. Moran received a commitment from Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Deputy Under Secretary Dr. Carolyn Clancy to address the hiring and background check processes that failed those veterans who were abused and to take steps to prevent future cases involving such deplorable acts by a VA employee.
Highlights of Sen. Moran’s remarks may be found below, along with links to the video:
Sen. Moran (0:12): “I want to raise a circumstance we find ourselves in in Kansas, and this is a topic that I have raised with (VA Inspector General) Mr. Missal as well as a letter to the secretary, but a tragedy has occurred in our state that involves the Leavenworth VA. And that tragedy is that a physician assistant is accused of sexually harassing and molesting veterans – particularly those with PTSD – and has been discharged from, has terminated his employment with the VA. But the facts now indicate that the knowledge of this person’s history could have, or perhaps it was known, he indicated in his application for licensure that he had past circumstances involving sexual crimes, and yet the individual still gets hired by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The reports continue to come in – criminal prosecution is ongoing…Again, it’s outrageous that someone with a criminal record would be hired and put in a position to care for our veterans…Are there things afoot at the VA that would improve the circumstances that these kind of circumstances – this circumstance in particular – can’t or wouldn’t happen again.”
Dr. Clancy (2:47): “First, we share your sense of outrage on behalf of the veterans you serve and, frankly, all veterans. And it is our responsibility to learn from this so that we can prevent anything that we could have done differently from happening in the future. That is a big priority for the group that I’m leading at VA, so I appreciate your comments very much…We will certainly be most attentive to the specific responses you need around this incident.”
Sen. Moran (4:58): “Doctor Clancy, I appreciate what you just said. I would tell you that I have had the sense over a period of time that seemingly too often when there’s a problem with an employee – a healthcare provider within the VA – my impression…is the most likely outcome is that professional is transferred to some other facility within the Department of Veterans Affairs. It seems to me that the likelihood of termination is minimized and often an individual is transferred.”
Dr. Clancy (5:43): “I can tell you that it was my highest priority to make sure that that did not happen. I can’t speak to what has happened in the past, but that’s not fair to veterans or to anyone else.”
Sen. Moran (6:16): “Doctor, I use this hearing as an opportunity to raise this issue for its importance. In this particular circumstance, justice needs to be had – individual veterans need to be cared for as a result of this individual’s actions. But, also, that this needs to come to an end – this should never be the circumstance we find ourselves in in any VA facility across the country and I would ask your commitment that we achieve that goal.”
Dr. Clancy (6:41): “You have my full commitment to that.”
Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) (6:44): “I want to thank Senator Moran for bringing up the subject and I want to make a comment if I can…there’s certain crimes or certain practices or certain illegal activities for which there should be zero tolerance period. Sexual predators is one of them…There ought to be a complete attitude of zero tolerance for certain things and sexual abuse or sexual predators is one of them.”
Mr. Wisner has been charged with aggravated sexual battery, aggravated criminal sodomy and misdemeanor sexual battery and faces numerous federal lawsuits stemming from his actions while as an employee of the VA.
Click here to watch Sen. Moran’s remarks on YouTube.