Retaliation against whistleblowers is illegal, and specific whistleblower protection was put in place for Veteran Affairs whistleblowers by President Donald J. Trump early in his tenure. But that hasn’t stopped the inappropriate activity from taking place, and the most recent example to come to light comes from Veteran Affairs police officers.
Few people are aware that the VA has its own police force, and it is doubly surprising that people hired to enforce the law on VA campuses would be whistleblowers, let alone the victims of illegal retaliation. But that is exactly what four different Veteran Affairs police officers from the country are reporting. The officers, who are tasked with such diverse tasks as protecting property and responding to suicide calls, have reported activities ranging from false reports being submitted to corruption and violation of ethical codes. In response, they have found that they face harsh treatment. According to Tim Petoskey of the Seattle VA, who reported discrimination and gross mismanagement as well as misuse of overtime, “Anything you can think of. They’ve messed with my pay, given me poor performance evaluation, and taken my creds (his badge) and put me on desk duty.) Officers have been sidelined and made the subject of what they call specious investigations.
Reports of Whistleblowing at The VA Send a Chill Through Responsible Staff Members
John Moline is a police officer at the Sheridan, Wyoming VA, and he said that his whistleblower disclosures ended up turning against him. He has been on temporary desk duty for 13 weeks. Officer Petoskey says, “So many police officers are scared. When a whistleblower engages the VA, the VA will attack that officer. These attacks are effective, and the majority of cops are scared of losing their jobs and being attacked in the same way as the whistleblower. Another officer, Greg Chiles of the Fort Harrison, Montana VA reports that after he conducted a traffic stop on the facility’s campus, he was specifically threatened that he would be subjected to a psychological evaluation and that in fact was the method of retaliation used against him as he disclosed fraud, waste, and abuse.
In response to such reports, President Trump created a whistleblower-protection office at the agency. It remains to be seen whether it will put an end to the punishments these officers have been subjected to.