American Veteran News 06.02.16

DYING VETERAN TRIED TO WARN DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSMAN OF VA ABUSE — DAILY CALLER — A veteran who died of a lethal combination of drugs administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) desperately called a Democratic congressman in the months before his death.

Jason Simcakoski knew he was being medicated into a dangerous state and was trying to get the FBI to look into the situation. He also called his congressman, Democratic Rep. Ron Kind. Simcakoski called Kind’s Washington, D.C. office Nov. 8, 2013, and spoke for eight minutes. Minutes before that, he had called the VA police. Simcakoski died at the hospital in August, 2014.

Whistleblowers had been frantically trying to alert authorities that Dr. David Houlihan, chief of staff at “Candy Land” Tomah, Wisc., federal hospital, was doping veterans up with sedatives at rates wildly out of step with his peers.

A spokeswoman for Kind said she had no immediate comment but might send out a statement. The call is the only one made from Simcakoski’s cell phone to a phone number with the House or Senate’s DC prefixes.

A record showing the call is contained in 5,000 pages of notes underlying a 300-page report published by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, chaired by Sen. Ron Johnson. The report is titled “The systemic failures and preventable tragedies at the Tomah VA Medical Center.”

“Jason Simcakoski attempted multiple times to engage local and federal law enforcement in examining drug diversion at the Tomah VAMC. For whatever reason, these law-enforcement officials apparently did not pursue the matter. The failure to do so represents yet another—and a very serious—missed opportunity to prevent the tragedies of the Tomah VAMC,” the report said without mentioning Kind.

Johnson has made the abuse of veterans by VA bureaucrats a major issue, even as government employee unions in the state have sought to turn it into an electoral one by blaming the hospital’s problems on Republicans.

A union official said she had blown the whistle by hand-delivering a document to former Sen. Russ Feingold, but when Feingold decided to run against Johnson to retake his old seat — opening Feingold to charges he had failed to protect veterans by acting on information he was given — the union backtracked and said it had not given him the document.

The state’s other senator, Democrat Tammy Baldwin, also didn’t take action until multiple vets had died, despite whistleblowers warning her office.

Baldwin blamed a top staffer, Marquette Baylor, and took the highly unusual step of firing her and making her a public scapegoat. Baylor has since filed an ethics complaint against her former boss, saying Baldwin unfairly blamed her “to protect her political career.”

COINCIDENCE LEADS TO AN ARLINGTON BURIAL FOR WWII MARINE — AP — ALBANY, N.Y. – When Jim Johnson’s quest to find out more about his namesake uncle killed in World War II led him to Mark Noah, the two men discovered they lived on the same island in the Florida Keys and even frequented the same bar.

On Tuesday, eight years after they first met, Johnson and Noah will attend the burial ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery for Pfc. James B. Johnson, whose remains were among those of 34 other Marines that Noah’s nonprofit organization recovered last year from a remote Pacific battlefield.

“The fact that I told him eight years ago that I’d help him out and we were actually able to recover his uncle is unbelievable for me,” Noah, founder of History Flight, said recently.

Last week, the Pentagon’s Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced that Pfc. Johnson’s remains had been identified after being recovered on the Tarawa atoll in June 2015 by volunteer members of Noah’s Marathon, Florida-based group. Pfc. Johnson, who grew up in Poughkeepsie, New York, was among the first waves of Marines to hit the beaches of the heavily defended island Nov. 20, 1943.

VA TAKES HEAT OVER PLAN TO LET NURSES TREAT VETS WITHOUT DOC SUPERVISION — FOX NEWS — The Veterans Affairs Department is taking heat over a proposal to allow highly trained nurses to act as doctors, and even administer anesthesia without a doctor’s supervision.

The move is part of an effort to reduce what is largely recognized as the VA’s greatest problem — long wait-times for doctor visits. But some see it as an ill-conceived plan that could put veterans at risk.

“When you have a veteran on the operating table with multiple medical conditions, seconds count,” said former president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists Dr. Jane Fitch, who was once a nurse herself. “All those years of education and training can make the difference between life and death.”

Fitch was among a group of anesthesiologists who gathered at the National Press Club on Wednesday to express opposition to the VA’s proposed rule. “For the safety and health of all of our veterans, the proposed policy as written must be stopped,” she said.

SENATE REPORT UNCOVERS ‘SYSTEMIC’ FAILURES IN PROBE BY VA WATCHDOG — WASHINGTON FREE BEACON — The Department of Veterans Affairs inspector general systemically failed to review a Wisconsin VA medical center’s lax authorization of prescription drugs, according to a U.S. Senate report released Tuesday.

The 350-page Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee report concluded that the watchdog failed to “identify and prevent the tragedies” at the Tomah VA Medical Center nicknamed “Candy Land,” USA Today reported.

The inspector general’s office discounted key evidence, narrowed its inquiry, and failed to publicly release the findings of a critical two-year investigation that unveiled providers at the Tomah facility were overprescribing narcotics, according to the Senate report.

The watchdog’s probe, which wrapped up in 2014, found that the facility’s chief of staff at the time, David Houlihan, and nurse practitioner Deborah Frasher were prescribing narcotics at disturbing levels but nevertheless failed to substantiate wrongdoing.

The inspector general’s office shared its findings with local VA officials instead of releasing the report to the public. USA Today noted that VA officials would have been compelled to remedy the charges were the report published publicly.

VA BROKE PROMISE TO PAY VET’S BILL AFTER VA LOCKED HIM OUT OF ER — DAILY CALLER — After profusely apologizing and promising to pay the private medical bills of a veteran who was locked out of a VA emergency room and had to struggle to get to a non-VA facility, the VA has broken its promise and completely ignored the vet for months.

Over Memorial Day weekend, Christopher Neiweem, a national veterans’ advocate, opened his mail to find a letter from the Cook County Health Care System warning him of a final notice to pay his $1,600 emergency room fee.

Neiweem incurred this fee on January 23 after waking up with a bad fever, cabbing to the Jesse Brown VA medical center and finding that the door to the 24/7 emergency room was shut. The lights in the building were off and the call box went unanswered. When Neiweem called the national veterans’ crisis line, a VA employee told him the ER was closed.

Standing out in the cold and weary from a night of nausea, Neiweem managed to limp in pain over to Cook County Hospital, where he was billed nearly $1,600 for ER care. Months have gone by, and the VA has still not paid the bill, despite its promise and profuse apology to Neiweem, he told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

LIST OF ALLIED AIRMEN WHO DIED IN AUSTRIA DURING WWII NOW ONLINE — S&S — Just in time for Memorial Day, the Austrian government has posted online a listing of 1,715 U.S. and British airmen who died in Austria during World War II – along with the time and place of their death. Among them are 1,582 Americans. This first comprehensive accounting also contains the names of 113 who are missing in action.

In April, U.S. Ambassador to Austria Alexa Wesner accepted from Austrian Defense and Sports Minister Hans Peter Doskozil the commemoration book “Missing in Action: Failed to Return” with the information compiled by historians Georg Hoffmann and Nicole-Melanie Goll during more than eight years of research.

“It will serve as a valuable resource to the U.S. government and professional historians, as well as to the many family members who wish to know more about their loved ones, their sacrifice, and the people they committed their lives to,” Wesner said.

Hoffmann said the names of American and British airmen have not been part of an official commemoration in Austria – they had, he noted, been “forgotten.”

HEALING AMERICA’S HEROES: A TRIPLE-AMPUTEE SOLDIER’S QUEST TO FISH — FOX NEWS — Army Major Ed “Flip” Klein is an outdoorsman. Born in Arkansas, the 35-year-old always found a calming presence in nature, but when he was severely injured during a 2012 deployment to Afghanistan, he wasn’t sure he’d ever find that calm again.

In October 2012, Klein was a company commander in his seventh month of a nine-month deployment and out on patrol with one of his platoons. The troops split in two, and were walking through a compound with a mine detection K-9 and officer, who crossed over an improvised explosive device (IED) before Klein unknowingly stepped on it with his left foot and it detonated.

A medivac was called and an emergency plan that Klein had helped craft weeks earlier saw him taken from the point of his injury to a helicopter, and transported to the Kandahar Regional Military Hospital inside the so-called “golden hour.” The golden hour refers to the time period lasting for one hour or less following a traumatic injury in which there is the highest likelihood that prompt medical treatment will prevent death.

For the nine days following the explosion, Klein would remain unconscious, and unable to reach Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, due to his unstable medical status and Hurricane Sandy battering the East Coast.

VETS WITH CHRONIC PAIN FIND RELIEF AT VA’S PAIN SCHOOLS — T&P — The VA’s pain schools offer a way to treat chronic pain that doesn’t rely on prescription drugs like opioids.

For veterans dealing with chronic pain, the pain program at a VA medical center in Bedford, Massachusetts, offers an alternative treatment method that doesn’t rely on prescription drugs.

According to WBUR, a National Public Radio news station, the Department of Veterans Affairs has 67 such pain schools that offer five-week, 15-hour courses emphasizing nutrition, sleep, exercise, breathing, visualizations, and stress management as a part of a holistic method for managing chronic pain.

Central to these pain schools is the idea that patients will need help at many stages as they deal with their pain.

“We’re not curing your pain, we are not taking it away, but it’s a way of helping you to manage your pain and live your life and function better,” said psychologist Tu Ngo in the WBUR news report.

SENATE PANEL: VA WATCHDOG MAY HAVE COVERED UP VETERAN ABUSE — WASHINGTON EXAMINER — Government watchdogs at the Department of Veterans Affairs wrongly closed a years-long investigation into failures at a Wisconsin VA hospital and attempted to prevent a report about the probe from going public, the Senate Homeland Security Committee has concluded.

The alleged cover-up was detailed in a report released Tuesday by the committee, which has looked into allegations of veteran mistreatment at the Tomah, Wis., VA hospital for the past 16 months.

Committee investigators detailed a pattern of stonewalling and evasion from the VA’s inspector general, which declined to provide documents and answer questions about aspects of the Tomah probe despite having conducted its own investigation into the same problems in 2013.

For example, the VA inspector general refused to provide Sen. Ron Johnson, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, with draft versions of a report on the Tomah inspection that might have shed light on information that was removed from the final document.

VA INSISTS ON PAPER RECORDS, SLOWING PAYMENTS TO PRIVATE DOCS BUT CREATING UNION JOBS — DAILY CALLER — Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) officials use a manual, paper-based system to process payments to private sector doctors that is so slow and inefficient care providers often go unpaid while multiple low-skill government clerks print, scan and stamp records and letters.

The system functions so poorly private-sector doctors have begun declining VA patients, so VA officials — many of whom fear using non-government care providers jeopardizes their union-backed government jobs — now claim more bureaucrats are needed to oversee the outsourcing effort.

The Daily Caller News Foundation reported earlier this month the Philadelphia claims processing office was filled with employees who allegedly watched TV all day, were paid overtime to do their work at night, and frequently brought their children to work.

The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs wrote to VA Under Secretary of Health David J. Shulkin May 24 saying TheDCNF’s findings were consistent with what the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found across the department’s entire operation for paying private doctors who treat veterans when they can’t get timely treatment at a government facility.

REPORT SLAMS VA WATCHDOG FOR ‘SYSTEMIC’ FAILURES IN PROBE OF HOSPITAL — MILCOM — A Senate committee’s report into overprescription of powerful painkilling drugs at a Wisconsin VA hospital slammed the agency’s inspector general’s office for discounting key evidence, narrowing its inquiry and failing to make its report on the matter public.

The report by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which will be released Tuesday and was first obtained by USA Today, says the VA watchdog’s investigation into the Tomah (Wisconsin) VA Medical Center was “perhaps the greatest failure to identify and prevent the tragedies at the Tomah VAMC.”

According to the report, the Inspector General’s office began investigating claims that opiates were being overpresecribed to Tomah patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in 2011.

The investigation, led by physician Allan Mallinger, lasted until 2014, but failed to examine whether the opiates were being prescribed in dangerous combinations with other drugs, nor whether employees felt threatened with retaliation if they raised concerns.

CORPUS CHRISTI VETERANS GIVE SUBMARINE SEND OFF IN PEARL HARBOR — CORPUS CHRISTI CALLER-TIMES — Texas | The Veterans Band of Corpus Christi performed more than 3,600 miles from home.

Their mission? Giving a proper send off to a submarine named for the band’s hometown.

The invite to perform at Pearl Harbor this weekend for the decommissioning ceremony for the USS City of Corpus Christi was humbling. Even more impressive was the outpouring of support the group of veterans received to fund their trip, band members said.

Ram Chavez, the band’s founder and director, said about 42 members, including the Funky Rock Jazz Band, and their spouses attended the ceremony in Hawaii this past weekend.

“We will honor our city, the USS City of Corpus Christi and the citizens who made it possible for the veterans band to make this performance,” Chavez said in a news release before their trip.

RETURN TO VIETNAM — AP — PENDLETON, Ore. — In his mind, Skip Nichols often returned to Vietnam.

Sometimes memories sidled into his consciousness. Other times they reached out, grabbed him and plunged him back into the thick of the war. He tried banishing them to the basement of his psyche. When that didn’t work, he worked with a counselor to bring the memories out into the open as a way to diminish their power. But nothing, it seemed, could totally silence the voices of Vietnam.

So, he decided to go back, the East Oregonian reported.

Nichols and his wife Paula took a battlefield tour called Return to Vietnam. The Walla Walla couple flew to Hanoi on March 6 and joined a group of Vietnam veterans who were intent on returning to the country that had affected them so much. The 12 veterans determined the itinerary for the two-week tour. Each chose a few locations where they had experienced something profound and often disturbing. Also along on the trip was the daughter of a soldier who had died in Vietnam.

Almost five decades had rushed by since Nichols had last set foot on Vietnam soil. In the interim, he met Paula on a blind date in Texas, fell in love, married and raised two daughters. He carved out a successful career in journalism, retiring in 2013 as managing editor of the East Oregonian. Through the years, the impact of his Vietnam experience simmered behind his easygoing disposition.

5 SECRETS THAT HELP VETERANS TRANSITION TO CIVILIAN LIFE — LA TIMES — Life transitions are never easy, but by far one of the hardest, one filled with ups and downs and uncertainty, is the transition from active military service to civilian life.

If you’re a veteran struggling, you’re not alone: 61 percent of post-9/11 veterans reported difficulty adjusting to civilian life, according to the report “The State of the American Veteran: The Orange County Veterans Study” by the University of Southern California School of Social Work.

One of the biggest roadblocks to a smooth transition is that, in most cases, there’s no clear road at all, says Stephanie J. Wong, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist in San Mateo, California. “No one tells you, ‘Step one: Do X. Step two: Do Y. Step three: Do Z.'”

But it’s easier than you might think to chart your best course, no matter what stage of re-integration you’re in. These five strategies will help.

THE LIST: THESE ARE THE VETERANS GROUPS RECEIVING MONEY FROM TRUMP’S FUNDRAISER — TOWNHALL — In January presumptive GOP Nominee Donald Trump boycotted the Fox News debate in Iowa and held a very public fundraiser for Veterans groups across town. The campaign and Trump repeatedly stated $6 million was raised and today, the list of groups receiving the money was announced. The campaign argues it took time for the checks to be paid out due to a lengthy vetting process for groups that applied for funds.

“The money has been paid out,” Trump said to a sea of reporters, saying he wanted to keep the list private and that isn’t anybody’s business. “I have been thanked by so many great veterans groups.”

“I wanted to keep it private because I don’t think it’s anyone’s business if I want to send money to the vets,” Trump continued. “Most of the money went out quite awhile ago…you have to vet all of these different groups. You have to go through a process.”

Here is the list of checks that have been delivered and cashed according to Trump:

TRUMP: PRESS SHOULD BE ‘ASHAMED’ OVER COVERAGE OF HIS VETERANS FUNDRAISER — WASHINGTON TIMES — Donald Trump eviscerated political reporters covering his presidential campaign Tuesday in a combative press conference, where he called television journalists “sleaze” and said the media should be ashamed for doubting his claims of raising $6 million for veterans’ groups.

The billionaire businessman, whose firm grasp on the GOP nomination has done little to temper his brash style, opined on the Cincinnati Zoo’s shooting of a gorilla, accused reporters of libel and lashed out at his remaining detractors within the Republican Party, calling them “losers” and saying he doesn’t need their support to win the White House.

His chief goal, however, was to try to dispel reports that he didn’t raise and donate the money he promised after he ditched one of the GOP’s debates in January, instead holding a competing rally for veterans.

BILL TO HELP WWII VETERANS EXPOSED TO MUSTARD GAS — WAMU — Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., plans to introduce legislation today to help World War II veterans who were exposed to mustard gas. The vets were used in classified experiments conducted by the U.S. military, and were sworn to secrecy about their participation for a half-century.

Last year, an NPR investigation found the Department of Veterans Affairs failed to notify thousands of mustard gas test subjects of their eligibility to apply for compensation — and that it routinely denied claims from veterans who qualified. In many cases, the VA has said veterans don’t have enough evidence of their participation in the tests to get benefits — even though the tests were kept off official records.

McCaskill is naming the bill the Arla Harrell Act, after a man thought to be the last surviving Missourian who served as a mustard gas test subject. Harrell, 89, lives in a nursing home. His repeated claims for compensation have been denied by the VA, as recently as last month.

Roughly 60,000 Army and Navy troops were used in the experiments, which sought to prepare the U.S. military to face mustard gas in battle. Mustard gas is known to cause serious illnesses, including leukemia, skin cancer and chronic breathing problems.

GROUP RECOGNIZES UNION CIVIL WAR VETERANS AT TULSA CEMETERY COMOX VALLEY — COMOX VALLEY — This movement is a national action and many cities and states take part in honoring veterans by placing American flags by their graves during Memorial Day.

The ceremony at the Iowa Events Center also featured an honor guard and patriotic music, including a song that separately honored each branch of the military, asking veterans to stand and be recognized. Its name was changed to Memorial Day in 1967.

It is a memorial that provides recognition, 40 years after the war ended, to a group of soldiers that Thomson and Ahlberg say didn’t receive any.

“If we care enough about this country to continue fighting the fight that they started, then enough people are gonna be involved in doing the things that matter, that make everything that they fought for worth it”, said Jason Corral, guest speaker and Air Force veteran.

TRUMP RELEASES DETAILS FROM VET FUNDRAISER, SLAMS MEDIA — MILCOM — Donald Trump fired back Tuesday at reports questioning his fundraising haul from a high-profile veterans event in January, releasing an extensive list of charities he said received the donations — and slamming the media for questioning him.

During a press conference at Trump Tower, the presumptive Republican nominee said he’s raised $5.6 million and more is coming in.

He rattled off the list of charities and the amounts they received, while taking scathing and sometimes-personal shots at the media for pressuring him to disclose the information.

“I have never received such bad publicity for doing such a good job,” Trump said. He added, “The press should be ashamed of themselves.”

The list contained dozens of groups including the Fisher House Foundation and the Green Beret Foundation, which received $115,000 and $350,000, respectively.

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT VA HOME LOANS — T&P — There are many reasons why a loan guaranteed by the VA might be a good choice for your next home.

Simply put, a VA home loan allows qualified buyers the opportunity to purchase a home with no down payment. Also, there are no monthly mortgage insurance premiums to pay, limitations on buyer’s closing costs, and an appraisal that informs the buyer of the property value. For most loans on new houses, construction is inspected at appropriate stages and a one year warranty is required from the builder. VA also performs personal loan servicing and offers financial counseling to help veterans having temporary financial difficulties.

RETIRED MARINE TO ‘LIBERAL’ MEDIA: ‘GET YOUR HEADS OUT OF YOUR BUTT’ — DAILY CALLER — Retired Marine and New Hampshire State Rep. Al Baldasaro blasted the “liberal media” telling them to “get your heads out of your butt, focus on the real issues.”

During Donald Trump’s Tuesday press conference, as the presumptive Republican nominee introduced Baldasaro, the candidate went off on ABC reporter Tom Llamas, calling him a “sleaze.”

[dcquiz] Trump said, “I could have asked all these groups to come here and I didn’t want to do that. I’m not looking for credit. But what I don’t want is when I raise millions of dollars, have people say, like this sleazy guy right over here from ABC, he’s a sleaze in my book. You’re a sleaze because you know the facts and you know the facts well.”

Then Baldasaro got to the podium he said, “For the record, I am a state representative from New Hampshire, ten years on the Veterans Affairs Committee, 22 years in the Marine Corps, retired First Sergeant. What I want to clarify here, first of all, I would never, ever in a million years put my name on a candidate who did not from his heart look me in the eye and tell me he is concerned about veterans. That is Donald Trump. I met him over a year ago.”

NAVY VETERAN FIGHTS BALTIMORE RULES RESTRICTING WHERE HE CAN PARK HIS FOOD TRUCK — DAILY SIGNAL — When Joey Vanoni returned to the United States from Afghanistan in 2013, he went to work putting his dream of owning a pizza business into action.

A Navy veteran and current reservist, Vanoni launched Pizza di Joey, his veteran owned and operated business, in August 2014, serving New York-style brick oven pizza out of a food truck in Maryland’s Anne Arundel and Baltimore Counties.

Vanoni knows good pizza. He was born and raised in New Jersey and began making pizza at a pizzeria when he was in high school. The reservist has lived in many cities across the country, all of which had their own pizza parlors claiming to sell New York-style pizza, and none of which quite made the cut.

So, having grown up on real New York-style pizza, Vanoni looked at his business as a chance to educate the public on what that truly means.

SHOULD PTSD BE DESCRIBED AS INJURY RATHER THAN DISORDER? — LAS CRUCES SUN-NEWS — I was moved to tears when I heard Linda Stanley, a former career Air Force officer speak at a psychiatric nursing conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, on May 6. Stanley served in the Iraq War as a trauma nurse and described how her own diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder devastated her.

This spurned her to become a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner who works with soldiers at the V.A. in San Diego. Ironically, it was the same day that USA Today announced that persistent stigma linked to mental health counseling has made little progress in addressing service issues related to PTSD and other mental health problems, according to an April report from the Government Accountability Office.

This, Stanley said, is largely because of the negative attitude that still exists for servicemen and women seeking the mental health services they need. In fact, according to reports, 37 percent of active duty personnel feel that seeking mental health care would probably or definitely hurt their careers.

KEEP THE PROMISE: DON’T CUT VETERAN EDUCATION BENEFITS — THE HILL — As cities and towns across America prepare to celebrate Memorial Day, we are once again reminded of the sacrifice of the small minority of men and women who volunteer to put themselves into harm’s way for our nation. But, after the streets get swept and the flags are returned to storage, some of our elected leaders will return to Washington and fail to honor the promise we have made to our service members.

In February, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3016, which called for a 50 percent cut to the housing allowance that children receive if their military or veteran parent transfers the benefit to them. Those who voted for the cut said it amounts to chump change for the average student, and that the savings will be used to fund other veteran programs. However, this cut has real-world consequences. For example, in the state of Alaska, the housing cut would cost a student as much as $1,260 every single month.

After outcry from Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families, a similar provision was removed from the Senate version of the bill (S.425). That progress was welcome, but it came at a cost when the bill’s sponsors announced the inclusion of a new cost-saving measure: a $3.4 billion cut over the next five years to all veterans’ Post-9/11 GI Bill housing allowances.

PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES HAVE VARYING PROPOSALS TO REVAMP VA — UPI — With an influx of military veterans returning stateside from Iraq and Afghanistan, and in the wake of reports exposing massive bureaucracy in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs leading to poor care and, in some cases, the death of retired service members while awaiting care, all three presidential candidates have put forth detailed plans for how best to reform the system.

While Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump agree in principle that there is a problem, their proposals for how to solve it differ widely.

Here is a look at the history of problems at the VA and how the 2016 presidential candidates propose to fix it.

HOUSE VA CHAIR: ‘HYPOCRITICAL’ FOR OBAMA TO REHIRE FIRED PHOENIX CHIEF — WASHINGTON EXAMINER — The House Veterans’ Affairs chairman blasted the Obama administration for its “hypocritical” support for Sharon Helman, the former head of the VA Phoenix office who was fired following the 2014 wait-time scandal.

“I’m outraged by the Obama administration’s decision, which is remarkably hypocritical given the fact that President Obama enthusiastically supported this law. The effect of this reckless action is clear: It undermines very modest reforms to our broken civil service system supported in 2014 by the president and an overwhelming majority of Congress,” Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., said in a statement Wednesday night.

The criticism comes after Attorney General Loretta Lynch said earlier Wednesday that Helman may return to her old job.

Miller said the Justice Department’s decision “underscores” the VA’s need to reform itself even two years after the story broke into the national spotlight.

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