Manchin Speaks To VA Inspector General, Demands Immediate Answers For Veterans' Families
Washington D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) today spoke with U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General Michael Missal and also sent a letter to him and to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie urging them to quickly conclude its investigations into the 11 suspicious deaths being investigated at the Clarksburg VA, one of which was confirmed to be homicide.
Senator Manchin said in part: “In the interest of assisting grieving family members and restoring public confidence across West Virginia, I urge you to quickly complete your investigation into the potential homicides resulting from unexplained episodes of hypoglycemia at the Louis A. Johnson Medical Center (VAMC) in Clarksburg, West Virginia. I also ask you to contact grieving family members and share as much information as you can with them. Further, I ask you to establish a crisis hotline to answer questions from impacted Veterans and their families. As of this morning seven families have reached out to me, and they deserve answers and all of our support.”
Last week the Clarksburg Exponent Telegram reported that at least one of the up to 11 suspicious deaths being investigated at the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center has been ruled a homicide. The other nine or ten are also suspected to be homicides.
As soon as the Director of the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center Dr. Snider raised concerns about these unexplained episodes of hypoglycemia, Senator Manchin notified the Acting Secretary of the VA and made it clear that he expected VA leadership at all levels to cooperate fully with the investigation. Below is a full timeline of steps Senator Manchin and his office have taken during the investigation.
- On Thursday, July 5th 2018, Senator Manchin’s office was notified by the VA Inspector General that at least nine in-patients at the Clarksburg VA hospital had been diagnosed with significant hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) of unclear cause over the past 9 months, and that they had opened a medical and criminal investigation into the matter.
- On Friday, July 6th 2018, Dr. Glenn Snider, the director of the Clarksburg VA, hosted a call with the West Virginia Congressional delegation to discuss the investigation. He reported the following chain of events:
- On June 18th 2018, several doctors reported 8 episodes of low blood sugar with no identified medical cause to the Clarksburg Quality Management (QM) team.
- On June 26th 2018, the QM team elevated the issue to Dr. Snider, who then called Under Secretary Steve Young at the VA Central Office to report the issue.
- On July 2-3rd 2018, seven VA Inspector General (VAOIG) staff came to the Clarksburg VA to open an investigation.
- On Wednesday, July 10th 2018, Senator Manchin sent a letter to then-Acting Secretary of the VA Peter O’Rourke expressing serious concerns about the unexplained episodes of hypoglycemia at the Clarksburg VA. He also clearly stated that he expected VA leadership at every level to cooperate fully with the IG investigation.
Read the full letter below or click here:
Dear Secretary Wilkie and Inspector General Missal,
In the interest of assisting grieving family members and restoring public confidence across West Virginia, I urge you to quickly complete your investigation into the potential homicides resulting from unexplained episodes of hypoglycemia at the Louis A. Johnson Medical Center (VAMC) in Clarksburg, West Virginia. I also ask you to contact grieving family members and share as much information as you can with them. Further, I ask you to establish a crisis hotline to answer questions from impacted Veterans and their families. As of this morning seven families have reached out to me, and they deserve answers and all of our support.
Last July, my office was originally notified of an open VA Inspector General (IG) investigation after multiple unexplained episodes of hypoglycemia at the VAMC in Clarksburg, but I never received notification of a homicide at that time. I immediately reached out to then-Acting Secretary of the VA, Peter O’Rourke, to express my serious concerns about these incidents and make clear my expectations that VA leadership at every level should cooperate fully with the IG investigation. My office repeatedly followed-up with the IG to request updates, but we were told that because of the ongoing IG investigation, specific details or updates could not be provided. Until this past weekend, I had been awaiting the results of the IG investigation before making any public comments on the matter.
As a member of both the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee, I will do everything in my power to make sure you have the resources you need to investigate this situation and restore public confidence. Please let me know immediately if you or your office require any additional resources or authority from Congress to complete this investigation thoroughly and expeditiously. Our Veterans have given so much to the country. We owe it to them to provide the best possible care when they return home. I remain committed to fighting for the health and safety of our Veterans and stand ready to work with you.
Throughout this investigation, let us not forget that there are Veterans families who are in grief because of this terrible situation. Finally, I ask that you do everything possible to provide these families with compassionate support, and any resource they may need during this time.
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