October 5, 2023

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Service members in the military branches are willing to give the ultimate sacrifice to protect their country and the freedom of the people living in it. While these brave men and woman are willing to lay their life down for another, they are not treated with the respect and dignity they deserve when it comes to protecting their health and having the proper recourse to take care of them. The VA has a history of not taking care of veterans. While these individuals are fighting for our freedom, who is fighting to protect and take care of them after they have served their country? The system is failing both those who are working in it and those who are meant to be receiving its services. These problems have been surfacing over the past years, and it doesn’t seem like the systematic issues are being addressed. However, individuals are working to bring justice to a broken system.  

The Department of Veteran Affairs has been criticized for the way it treats patients, misuses resources, and falsifies reports. Wait time and quality of patient care have been reoccurring core themes for issues that veterans face within the VA system. Whistleblowers who have come forward about these problems have been bullied and fired, making an example out of those who try to speak out against what is going on within the walls of the VA. Dr. Dale Klein, a VA physician, said the Department of Veterans Affairs took away his patients and privileges after he exposed issues surrounding wait times, and having an inkling that some prescription medicine was being sold on the black market. He said that after the VA found out about his complaint, he started to see the pushback.

And as some whistleblowers realize that disclosing problems through the proper protocol of VA conduct is backfiring against them, people are reaching out to creative resources to protect their lives, career, and push back against threats towards them. Dr. David Klein is represented by Whistleblower Law Firm founder, Attorney Natalie Khawam. “It could set a bad precedent for other whistleblowers because they’re going to say, ‘I don’t want to risk my livelihood, my career, and my security because I see what happened to Dr. Klein and I don’t want that to happen to me or my family’,” said attorney Natalie Khawam.

Attorney Khawam takes an interest in the men and women who serve our country and goes to great lengths to protect and find them justice. She is heavily involved in the Wounded Warriors Projects. Veterans and their families are of the extremely important t Attorney Khawam. She is the founder of the Whistleblower Law Firm and has set out on a career to seek justice and truth, and firmly believes that she must help protect the heroes who fought to defend our life and liberty. To accomplish this goal, she has crafted a specialized team of VA accredited attorneys. More attorneys like Khawam could help bring justice to the overwhelming number of veterans and employees who have suffered at the hands of the VA.

The VA Scandal of 2014 revealed just how bad things were at the VA for those seeking treatment or trying to get in to be seen. And it has been a slow process to improve many of the ongoing issues and problems. The VA hospital in Phoenix was hiding a host of secrets, and many veterans suffered from the lies and deceitful nature of the VA Hospital. The hospital failed its service members on several accounts. They submitted false documents to authorities that did not disclose the actual wait time. Patients were waiting an average of 115 days to be seen by a primary care provider. The goal wait time was 14 days for the VA patients, and 24 days was the amount that was reported by the Phoenix hospital. The gap in numbers was all over the board, and consistency and accountability were lacking. CNN said that as many as 40 veterans died while on wait lists at the Phoenix hospital. Time was of the essence for these veterans, and unfortunately, making money, bonus incentives, and appearances took priority over saving veteran lives or providing them with thorough and proper health care. The numbers that this scandal found were disheartening for VA members and their families.

How did we get to a place where it was more important to cover up a problem than take the necessary steps to address the issues and save people’s lives? Instead, people who were willing to give up their lives to protect their country have died, and it could have been prevented. Greed is definingly at the heart of this issue. Money is a powerful incentive to cut corners and do the bare minimum to receive the maximum reward. There is a lack of accountability and integrity regarding patient care. The number of patients that the VA had to serve was overwhelming, and they did not have the resources to meet the needs of those who were requesting them. We live in a country where we can’t take care of the healthcare needs of individuals, and the consequences are life or death.

Similar events of misconduct took place around the country. The problem was systematic, not a standalone isolated incident. Any form of actions that could manipulate false wait times seemed to be the root of the issue. These issues were seen in Missouri, Texas, Colorado, and numerous other VA locations across the country. Whistleblowers have severed to bring justice to these problems, but in 2018 we are still seeing a backlash against trying to fix this broken system. Some of the top attorneys represent whistleblowers in the country. Attorney Natalie Khawam of the Whistleblower Law firm has represented numerous VA cases and supporting and fighting for justice for the men and women of the country who have fought for us are critically essential cases to her.

The problem has not been fixed, and issues within the VA persist. Fear is a huge factor that has the power to influence and keep people in their place. As whistleblowers come forward about the corrupt nature of how the VA is run, people trying to fight the corruption of the system are receiving backlash, threats, and job termination. People who work for the VA are reluctant to speak out against how the system is unjust, but many have faced severe repercussions for doing so within the confines of their work. For example, NPR came out with a detailed account of what is happening with the VA employees in Alabama calling it a culture of fear and retaliation for whistleblowers. The article goes on to explain that workers see the corrupt nature of the VA and how veterans are not receiving the care they deserve, yet those who work in at the facility are shut down, threatened, and bullied into silence. When the whistleblowers started talking about and trying to address the issues, they say they were shut down, isolated, and eventually removed from their position. Others who are employed at the VA are silenced into submission and only do as their told out of fear of retaliation or backlash. Those who have spoken out and rubbed against the grain have suffered consequences. There is a theme that is surfacing as people are speaking up. People are having similar negative experiences.

The VA has not always been as troubled as it is today. In 1930 it was moved to the federal administration status with the purpose to take care of the men and women who served in a war. A noble and essential service for those who were willing to sacrifice so much for freedom. Since then, the U.S. has been involved in a growing list of military immersion. The longest of these being a 17-year-long war in Afghanistan. The VA is struggling to keep up as the need for veterans’ care continues to surpass what resources are available. They simply cannot keep up with the amount there is to do, in a quality and timely fashioned way. Today, there is indeed a culture present in the VA that needs improvement. In April 2017, President Trump signed an executive order to create a new whistleblower protection office at the Department of Veterans Affairs. It’s clear that some VA hospitals offer better care than others, but wait time is still a massive issue across the board for these veterans. While the scandal of 2014 revealed the lies that were being perpetuated, indeed it will take time, energy, and a restructuring of the system to get things back on track for our veterans. The waiting room for veterans is not a place they need to be. Some conditions need immediate care and attention, and a waiting period is just a place for them to decay. It is unacceptable that wait times were misreported, and those who suffered most were those that would sacrifice their lives for the ones mistreating them.

An element of trust and accountability needs to be reestablished between Veterans and the VA. The wrongful acts they have committed against those who have served our country is abhorrent. It is also concerning that reliable, and justice-seeking employees are not able to bring their complaints forward without the repercussions that many of them are unnecessarily faced with. While many await justice from the wrongdoings of the VA, people are still turning to Whistleblower Attorneys like Natalie Khawam to go to bat for them when the system that is supposed to be supporting them fails to. Ultimately, it comes down to giving the correct patient care, timelines, and treating people on a proper schedule, so people don’t die from wait times. The worst consequence of this failing system is death, and Veterans deserve better than that. Fear and control are powerful tools to keep people silenced and the status quo unchecked. In the future, hopefully, we can do better for the brave men and women who served to protect our freedom, by providing them with a high standard of healthcare in a timely fashion. And hopefully, more people continue to speak out against the injustice that they are experiencing within the system, and not let a culture of fear rule against what they know is right and just. If people speak up instead of turning a blind eye, one could play a vital role in fixing a corrupt system, and ultimately play a part in saving lives.