- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The director of the Office of the Medical Inspector at the Department of Veterans Affairs, which has recently come under fire for not taking whistleblower reports seriously, has retired, according to a press release.

Acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Sloan Gibson announced Wednesday that the director of OMI had retired Monday.

A letter sent to the White House last week found that OMI had not done anything to fix whistleblower complaints. In one example, the office substantiated reports that a mental health patient had been kept at a VA facility for eight years before receiving a comprehensive evaluation, but said that didn’t constitute neglect or have any affect on patient care.

“The VA’s Office of the Medical Inspector has consistently used a ‘harmless error’ defense, where the department acknowledges problems but claims patient care is unaffected,” the June 27 letter from the Office of Special Counsel said. “As a result, veterans’ health and safety has been unnecessarily put at risk.”

After the letter was released, Mr. Gibson called for a full review of OMI to be completed within two weeks. Mr. Gibson also met with Carolyn Lerner, head of OSC, earlier this week to update her on the progress of that investigation.

Several other top leaders at the VA have stepped down in recent months following reports that thousands of veterans were placed on secret wait lists where they may have never received an appointment. Among them were Dr. Robert Petzel, undersecretary of health, and Secretary Eric Shinseki, who both resigned in May, though some lawmakers have called for more personnel changes to hold employees accountable.