(WASHINGTON) — The American Federation of Government Employees is calling on Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to take immediate action in ending the retaliatory actions taken against a psychologist at the Wilmington VA Medical Center. Dr. Michelle Washington, a post-traumatic stress disorder specialist at the facility, has seen her performance rating lowered, job duties altered and job titled changed stemming from her Senate testimony about mental health care access wait times, says AFGE.
On the eve of her Senate testimony on understaffing and improper accounting measures regarding PTSD treatment of veterans, Dr. Washington had her personnel evaluation changed and lowered. Thereafter, she had her duties radically changed and veterans have had to travel much further for PTSD evaluations. Additionally, her fellow union members have faced other adverse actions as part of what appears to be a coordinated pattern of retaliation for bringing to light mismanagement at the VA.
In a letter to Secretary Shinseki, AFGE National Secretary-Treasurer J. David Cox calls the retaliation “highly illegal, extremely disrespectful of the Congressional hearing process and threatening to the VA’s ability to identify deficiencies in services in provides to veterans.”
“For eight months, Dr. Washington has been under attack for speaking the truth about the unmet needs of veterans facing severe mental health problems,” said Cox. “It is time for the agency’s highest level appointee over our veterans’ health care system to take prompt action to fix this situation and make Dr. Washington whole in terms of her job duties, job title and performance ratings.”
AFGE also has requested a meeting with Secretary Shinseki to address management’s retaliatory actions.