Wilkie ‘has lost confidence’ and should resign, says Veterans Committee chairman
House Veterans Committee Chairman Mark Takano, D-Calif., Calls for the resignation of VA Secretary Robert Wilkie following revelations that Wilkie disparaged a Marine Reserve member who reported being sexually assaulted at a VA facility.
After the VA Inspector General found out on Thursday that Wilkie sought to discredit a veteran who reported an assault at the VA’s DC Medical Center in September 2019, Takano said Wilkie had “lost the confidence of all those he is charged with serving and must resign”.
Veteran Andrew Goldstein works closely with Takano; she is a member of the committee staff as well as lieutenant-commander of the naval reserve.
“Instead of working with me to resolve an underlying problem at DC VAMC from the start, Secretary Wilkie and senior VA officials went out of their way to arouse suspicion and cast speculation and doubt on [the veteran] and the legitimacy of the whole incident, ”Takano said Thursday in reaction to the report.
“When top VA leaders fail in their duty, refuse to take immediate action to correct glaring shortcomings, and are themselves complicit in attempts to discredit and cast doubt on the facts, they betray the public trust and fail themselves. therefore disqualify from any future public service, ”he added.
Although the IG found that Wilkie disparaged Goldstein and sought to undermine his credibility, however, this did not support reports that Wilkie actively investigated the former service member or ordered others to examine his background.
After Goldstein was allegedly groped at the VA Hospital, she alleges that no one intervened or helped until she told her doctor about it.
The IG also found that VA officials began to take action within hours of Goldstein’s report that appeared to seek reasons to undermine his credibility. According to the investigation, on the same day as the complaint, they began discussing whether Goldstein had complained of verbal abuse from an AV provider. And, according to the investigation, they performed a background check on Goldstein and released the findings before a background check on the accused was carried out, then launched a media campaign to question Goldstein’s credibility, targeting nine national news organizations.
Takano called Wilkie’s interference in the case a “baseless attack” and said Goldstein is an “exceptional employee who works tirelessly not for herself but to improve the lives of all of our veterans. country”.
“Sadly, this report is emblematic of the well-documented problem of sexual harassment and assault that has spread through our military and polluted the culture of VA. In our country, countless military personnel and veterans experience these injustices on a daily basis – their truth being questioned and their voices ignored, ”he said.
The congressman, who heads the committee that oversees and sets policy for the department, also called for the resignation of other officials mentioned in the report: Acting Deputy Secretary Pamela Powers, Acting Chief of Staff and Deputy Secretary for Congressional and Legislative Affairs Brooks Tucker, Senior Assistant General Counsel in the delegated capacity of General Counsel William Hudson, Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs James Hutton; and Assistant Under Secretary for Public Affairs Curt Cashour.
“VA requires a cultural change to end sexual harassment and assault at VA facilities – this change starts at the top. It is clear to me that Secretary Wilkie is not up to the task. He has lost everyone’s confidence. those he is responsible for serving, ”said Takano.
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