President Doofus Trump has relentlessly accused NFL players and others who kneel during the anthem of disrespecting not only the flag but our veterans. Somehow he has mind wrapped around the concept that kneeling is doing the utmost disservice to our veterans and anyone who does this should be dealt with severely. What goes unmentioned however is how government entities (city, state, and federal) continue to tread on the very same veterans the president claims to have the highest respect for. One federal agency dedicated to the best interests of veterans is showing just how much respect they have for them by hiring doctors with felony convictions and malpractice claims.
An investigation conducted by USA Today found that the agency’s hiring process poorly vetted physicians. According to the investigation:
“The hiring process entails license verification and reference-checking, but it appears as though VA officials have some amount of discretion when they discover medical licensing problems, malpractice or felony convictions.”
Essentially, officials over the hiring process at the VA choose to look the other way when applicants with a spotty record cross their paths. Instead of ensuring the highest quality of treatment for veterans, the VA is focused on the most cost effective quality of treatment. That in itself disrespects the veterans who suffer injuries in the name freedom.
USA Today notes one case where a Muskogee, OK VA hospital hired a psychiatrist in 2013 despite being aware of the history of actions taken against the doctor’s license. The psychiatrist, Stephen Lester Greer, was accused of sexual misconduct multiple times. Greer was caught having a sexual relationship with a patient at the VA hospital. He later plead guilty for trying to coerce the patient to lie about the relationship.
Another psychiatrist at a VA clinic in Lafayette, LA had several felony convictions on his application but was still hired in 2014. The VA ignored the convictions and brought on the psychiatrist. It wasn’t until a full year later, the VA ran a background check on the psychiatrist and found eight arrests, some of which included drug dealing and burglary. The VA did not immediately release the unnamed psychiatrist choosing to allow him to continue to put the agency and the patients at risk. The psychiatrist was finally fired this year. The report did not indicate the reason for his termination.
Yet another psychiatrist, David Houlihan, worked at a VA hospital in Tomah, Wisconsin. Houlihan was known as the “candy man” by veterans because of his generous distributions of prescription drugs. Houlihan was hired in 2002 and two years later became a chief of staff. Proper vetting would have shown that the Iowa Board of Medicine noted that the “candy man” had an inappropriate relationship with a patient and also took patient medications home with him.
Considering the level of respect for veterans the VA has, VA press secretary Curt Cashour told USA Today that the agency would conduct an internal review of the hiring process. The review would determine whether any doctors were hired who otherwise wouldn’t have if properly vetted.
“We will take the same prompt removal action with any other improper hires we discover,” Cashour said.
The investigative report comes after a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The GAO’s report found that the VA failed in 90% of cases to report doctors who may be dangerous to a national database.
With that being said, who is disrespecting our veterans more: kneeling NFL players or an agency devoted to veterans’ rights putting veterans in harm’s way?