Until somebody gets fired or goes to jail, the culture of retaliation will continue at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Rep. Jeff Miller, a Florida Republican who chairs the House Veterans Affairs Committee, tells Newsmax TV
"That will be the shot heard around the agency," Miller said. "Now once that starts happening, people will start doing the right thing."
Appearing on "America's Forum," Miller said the fraud that's been perpetrated on American veterans has been bred by corruption inside the system.
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"The bad thing is the hundreds of thousands of good employees that go to work every single day to serve the veterans and not themselves [who] are getting painted with the same brush that these people that are corrupt," said Miller. "It's got to stop now and the only way to begin the process of rebuilding the VA into an agency that can serve the veterans is to root this corruption out at the very core."
Four VA whistleblowers testified before House lawmakers Tuesday night, detailing retribution they faced when trying to report wrongdoing within the agency.
The testimony comes following reports of falsified records to cover up months and years-long wait times to see doctors. VA officials received bonuses based on providing timely care, and kept secret waiting lists to keep vets out of the official computer system until appointments were 14 days out so that Washington would believe care was prompt.
"Without question, [retaliation] has been a part of the culture for many, many years," Miller said. "That's been part of the reason it's been so difficult to uncover the corruption that we've finally been able to find, is because they have fudged numbers, hid numbers, manipulated books.
"People have tried to come forward time and time again. They keep getting pushed back to their supervisors and then their supervisors retaliate against them by demoting them, putting them in positions, giving them the midnight shift."
He explained the way retaliation at the VA works: A whistleblower comes forward and a "whisper campaign" begins, spreading rumors that the complainant is "disgruntled."
Miller characterized former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, who resigned shortly after the scandal erupted, as a "good man" whose people lied to him.
"He's gone but the people that lied to him are still on the payroll," Miller said.
Until VA employees get the message that "manipulation of records for personal gain is illegal" and until somebody goes to jail or loses their job, "we are not going to be able to send the message."
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