CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia’s U.S. senators want answers about issues at two Veterans Affairs facilities in the state.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., continues his call for accountability regarding multiple deaths at the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center in Clarksburg, while Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., wants answers about incidents of sexual harassment at multiple facilities including the medical center in Beckley.
During a hearing Wednesday on pending nominations, Manchin spoke about the ongoing investigation into at least 10 deaths at the Clarksburg facility. At least six of the deaths involve patients who were not diabetic receiving injections of insulin.
Manchin took notice of recent comments by Dr. Richard Stone, the executive in charge of the Veterans Health Administration. Stone wrote an open letter saying recent headlines about the deaths “discourage veterans from seeking care at the department” and the VA has worked to address the problem.
“I’m sorry, Dr. Stone, that’s not the case, and it’s definitely not the facts in West Virginia,” Manchin said.
The Veteran Affairs’ inspector general and the Department of Justice are investigating a person of interest. No arrests have been made.
“I want to know when our family members of victims are going to get answers. When are we going to have some accountability other than just some op-ed by the person in charge saying everything’s fine?” Manchin added.
The senior senator noted his office receives 20 calls a week from people who don’t know if a late relative may be among the victims.
Capito joined Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst in sending a letter to Veteran Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie about reports of sexual assault and harassment at facilities across the country. Multiple reports have been made regarding the Beckley VA facility; one person has been fired.
Capito and Ernst are asking Wilkie about hiring providers who do not have a history of sexual assault or harassment, as well as services provided to victims who received care when incidents happened. The senators request Wilkie to provide information by Nov. 14.