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Phoenix Physician: Veterans Affairs Still Retaliates Against Whistleblowers

Published: Tuesday, June 25, 2019 - 1:37pm
Updated: Wednesday, June 26, 2019 - 8:37am

A Phoenix geriatric physician and whistleblower Tuesday testified at a Veterans Affairs oversight hearing on Capitol Hill.

Dr. Katherine Mitchell, who spoke out against long wait times for patients at the Phoenix VA Health Care System in 2014, told the congressional committee that she is still facing retaliation despite a legally binding settlement agreement.

“From 2014 until 2018, I had no regular assignments. Although I am highly trained as a VA Quality Scholar, I’m excluded from almost every oversight activity and I’m not officially allowed to intervene in patient care problems,” she said in her testimony.

Mitchell also said until VA leadership and culture improve, whistleblowers are crucial advocates for patients receiving inadequate care.  

President Donald Trump issued an executive order in 2017 with a stated intent to “ … improve accountability and whistleblower protection at the Department of Veterans Affairs by directing the secretary of Veterans Affairs  to establish within the VA an Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection and to appoint a special assistant to serve as executive director of the office.”