A top VA official spoke candidly Tuesday night, apologizing for failing the American people who trusted the department to care for the nation’s veterans.
Dr. James Tuchschmidt, acting principal deputy under secretary for health, said he wanted to speak his mind rather than read from his prepared remarks.
“I know I come here tonight with my credibility in question,” he said before a hearing of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.
Dr. Tuchschmidt listened to almost three hours of testimony from VA whistleblowers, who described the retaliation they faced after bringing issues of patient care to their superiors.
“I have to hope that these things are exceptions and not the rule,” he said. “I’m past being upset and mad and angry about this. I’m very disillusioned and sickened by all this. I can’t believe that we’re at this point in this organization that I was so proud of and worked so hard to make it a great place.”
Following his opening remarks, Rep. Jeff Miller, Florida Republican and chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, asked Dr. Tuchschmidt to go into details about why one particular employee still had a job at the VA after improperly recording notes on a patient. The VA official, however, declined to go into specifics, citing privacy concerns and an ongoing investigation.
He said a private brief to Mr. Miller would be a better way to discuss the cases.
“It may be better for you, but it’s not better for this committee,” Mr. Miller said.