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Jamie Dupree's Washington Insider

Posted: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 15, 2014

VA scandal touches a nerve 

By Jamie Dupree

As a reporter, you can always tell when a story takes another step forward because listeners and readers begin getting in touch with you to either tell their stories or to offer up insights of their own. And that's where we seem to have arrived with questions about the Department of Veterans Affairs.

"I too am a whistleblower who has been fired not once but twice for speaking out," wrote a woman from Georgia in an email.

"Please shine the light on this story," sha added, volunteering to send me more information on her troubles with VA superiors.

Another woman who works inside the VA wrote to say that she had emailed a top VA official who testified on Monday night before the House Veterans Committee.

"I was very surprised that she would even email me back, but she did at 1:30 am after the hearing," the VA worker wrote me.

"Please call me and I can give you more information," she added.

Not an easy path to being a whistleblower

Two recent hearings in the House Veterans Committee were a reminder that while it might sound noble to be a whistleblower, the road forward can be filled with trouble.

"I discovered that false data was entered into the medical records of veterans in June of 2014," said Dr. Jose Mathews, who works at the St. Louis VA.

"After disclosing this to Acting Secretary Gibson, I was immediately reprimanded," Mathews told lawmakers.

Whistleblower Kristin Ruell, who works in the Philadelphia VA benefits office, said she found the VA targets "anyone that steps in the way" - her reward for a recent whistleblower report was finding dents in her car, and a huge cup of coffee spilled onto her windshield.

Whistleblower Javier Soto told lawmakers that "any employee that complains is met with severe consequences."

Soto should know - he was fired on June 30 - he guesses for pointing out errors being made in the review of veterans claims.

If you want to let me know about anything amiss inside the federal government, you can always send me an email.

Jamie Dupree

About Jamie Dupree

Jamie Dupree is the Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau of the Cox Media Group and writes the Washington Insider blog.

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