VA Under Trump Admin Fires More Than 500 Employees, Suspends 200 for Misconduct

FILE - In this June 21, 2013 file photo, the Veterans Affairs Department in Washington. Federal authorities have launched dozens of new criminal investigations into possible opioid and other drug theft by employees at Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals, a sign the problem isn't going away despite new prevention efforts. …
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File

The Department of Veterans Affairs fired more than 500 employees and suspended nearly 200 for misconduct since President Trump’s inauguration in January, keeping true to campaign promises to clean up the agency.

The VA’s accountability report released Friday noted that the agency removed 526 employees, suspended 194 employees for more than two weeks, and demoted 27 employees.

Among those disciplined by the agency include 70 nurses, 25 physicians, 14 police officers, a public affairs specialist, a program analyst with the Government Accountability Office, and 22 senior officials.

The agency also fired convicted felons and sex offenders who worked as housekeeping aides and food service workers.

“Veterans and taxpayers have a right to know what we’re doing to hold our employees accountable and make our personnel actions transparent,” VA Secretary David Shulkin said in a statement. “Posting this information online for all to see, and updating it weekly, will do just that.”

Many veterans have died waiting for care, and VA officials have allegedly reported false data on wait times to receive cash bonuses.

However, changes to improve the agency have been slow-going because the union that represents VA employees, the American Federation of Government Employees, has convinced Democrats to provide greater job protections for government employees.

Secretary Shulkin, who was appointed as undersecretary to the VA under the Obama administration, grew frustrated with efforts by the government employees’ union and other groups defending sub-par employees’ rights to stay on the government payroll when these same employees neglected to care for veterans.

“Just last week we were forced to take back an employee after they were convicted no more than three times for DWI and had served a 60-day jail sentence … Our accountability processes are clearly broken,” Shulkin said at the White House.

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