Political Editors / Aug. 25, 2016

VA Whistleblower Gets the Boot

Even good deeds don’t go unpunished.

When it comes to the Department of Veterans Affairs, miracles do happen. Just ask Anthony Salazar. The Los Angeles-based VA employee was fired last year for ostensibly violating the agency’s code of conduct. Great news, right? Well, not exactly. Even when miracles like this do happen at the VA, they’re shrouded in malicious ulterior motives. According to the Office of Special Counsel, a few years ago “Mr. Salazar described how 30 of the 88 agency vehicles were unaccounted for, explained how ten fleet cards were suspected of fraudulent purchases, and pressed the urgent need for the VA to get the situation under control.”

That’s pretty alarming stuff, and an ensuing investigation found Robert Benkeser, who oversees the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, culpable. According to The Daily Caller, “The department convened an ‘administrative investigation board’ (AIB) that resulted in ‘a letter of counseling’ to Benkeser for mismanaging the motor pool.” But instead of rectifying the situation and moving on, a vengeful Benkeser terminated Salazar … for exposing his own misdeeds. As the Caller goes on to note, “The ease with which Salazar was fired … stands in contrast to the many employees who unambiguously committed egregious misconduct and are still on the job.” No joke.

Meanwhile, The New York Times reports, “A 76-year-old veteran committed suicide on Sunday in the parking lot of the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center on Long Island, where he had been a patient, according to the Suffolk County Police Department.” An anonymous source said the man, Peter A. Kaisen, “went to the ER and was denied service. And then he went to his car and shot himself.” If the VA put as much effort into helping folks like Mr. Kaisen as it does looking to retaliate against whistleblowers — a problem that’s systemic — perhaps fewer vets would be killing themselves.

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