Abrupt Firing Of Undersecretary Once Again Throws Veterans Affairs Into Turmoil Ahead Of Big Health Revamp
VA Secretary Robert Wilkie fired a well-liked top official within the agency in the midst of a controversy over sexual assault allegations from a House staffer. All of this comes as the VA prepares to embark on an ambitious health plan to improve veterans' access to care. Meanwhile, veterans are demanding an investigation into radium exposure.
The New York Times:
Veterans Affairs, A Trump Signature Issue, Is Facing Turmoil Again
As President Trump enters his re-election year, his administration’s focus on the nation’s veterans has emerged as a centerpiece of the campaign. But the agency tasked with caring for more than nine million former service members, a department he claims to have transformed, is showing signs of disarray. The mysterious firing last week of the deputy secretary of veterans affairs was only the latest in a string of incidents that have shaken the second-largest cabinet agency in the government as it embarks on ambitious changes to veterans health care. (Steinhauer, 2/13)
K2 Veterans Demand Investigation Into Deadly Exposure: 'Congress Needs To Act'
Former Senior Airman Kelly Earehart used to joke with his friends about what they were being exposed to while deployed in Uzbekistan. "Watch out for that puddle -- it could be chemical weapons," he remembers saying. The reality now is less light-hearted. "Two of my good friends are dead," he told ABC News. "And I believe it has something to do with K2." (Dubnow, 2/14)
In other news from the administration —
The Wall Street Journal:
U.S. Indian Health Service Doctor Indicted On Charges Of Sexual Abuse
A U.S. Indian Health Service doctor was indicted Thursday on charges of sexually abusing his Native American patients at a health center in South Dakota, deepening a crisis over the handling of sexual misconduct that has consumed the federal agency for a year. The doctor, Pedro Ibarra-Perocier, a family medicine physician, was indicted on eight counts of sexual abuse involving four different adult patients at the agency’s clinic on the Yankton Sioux Reservation, in the town of Wagner in the southeastern corner of the state. A lawyer for Dr. Ibarra-Perocier declined to comment. A U.S. District Court clerk in Sioux Falls said he had pleaded not guilty. (Weaver and Frosch, 2/13)