WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), in a recent letter to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert McDonald and phone conversation with VA Inspector General Michael Missal, pressed the VA for details regarding multiple allegations of sexual abuse in the VA Eastern Kansas Health Care System against former Physician Assistant Mark Wisner. At issue is the VA’s knowledge of Mr. Wisner’s criminal history prior to his employment, the VA’s reaction to Mr. Wisner’s admittance of wrongdoing and the possibility that Mr. Wisner’s abuses were not limited to the Leavenworth VA Medical Center.
“It is deeply disturbing that someone entrusted to care for our nation’s veterans would instead subvert that trust to perpetrate such heinous crimes,” said Sen. Moran. “The facts surrounding these abuses must be fully examined in order to prevent a situation where veterans are subjected to an individual who adds to their wounds of war rather than healing 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.
A full copy of the letter may be found here and an excerpt may be found below:
Dear Secretary McDonald,
I am writing to call your attention to the tragic and disturbing allegations of abuse of veterans by a Physician Assistant in the VA Eastern Kansas Health Care System, Mark Wisner. As a result of veterans bravely coming forward with their experiences, Mr. Wisner faces two criminal cases in Leavenworth County that include charges of aggravated sexual battery, aggravated criminal sodomy and three misdemeanor charges of sexual battery. While the court proceedings for these cases are underway, Mr. Wisner also faces numerous lawsuits filed in federal court by the veterans who allege they were subjected to his abuse. Revelations regarding Mr. Wisner’s criminal background and lewd behavior have surfaced in press reports, calling into question what the VA knew, or reasonably should have known, to protect veterans from a criminal who eventually abused them.
Recent reports and evidence of Mr. Wisner’s medical credentials show that he admitted he was convicted of a crime when applying for his state licensure. It is unclear whether the VA investigated Mr. Wisner’s criminal record as part of his application process and hiring by the VA. It is extremely troubling that a criminal can admit to having committed a crime and yet be hired for a position where veterans are under his or her care. Please explain the vetting process for hiring VA personnel and answer these specific questions:
- What information is a medical provider applicant required to provide or answer as part of the VA hiring process?
- Does the VA Central Office or a local medical center or facility oversee the hiring of medical provider applicants? Please describe the offices involved in and responsible for the hiring of medical providers.
- Does the VA conduct a criminal background check on all applicants? Is there a different standard specifically for medical providers who seek a position in patient care? Please explain the criminal background check process for applicants to serve in the VA.
- In the scenario of an applicant who has been convicted of a crime, what is the standard or threshold to determine if the applicant’s crime is a disqualifying factor?
- Is there any VA directive, guidance, regulation or rule that sets a standard or threshold to determine what type of crime is a disqualifying factor for an applicant? What office is responsible for making this determination?
The agency created to serve and take care of veterans employed a criminal who took advantage of veterans who sought his medical assistance. Veterans who put their lives on the line to return home safely and then experience abuse by a medical provider they trusted at their own VA, a place where they should be protected and honored, is an egregious injustice. Mr. Wisner violated the sacred promise of the VA’s sole mission to care for those who served our nation, not to add to their wounds of war. The revelations of Mr. Wisner’s background and the depth of his abuse must be fully investigated and I want to make certain the VA is taking every action possible to determine how such a horror could have happened and to prevent such a situation from ever happening again. I look forward to your prompt and informative response.
- (1.0 MBs)