Palazzo Condemns Jackson VAMC Failures at House Veterans Affairs Hearing

This is a news release from Congressman Steven Palazzo

Washington, DC- Congressman Steven Palazzo, (MS-4), today at a House Veterans Affairs Committee Hearing, condemned recent reports of improper and inadequate care given to veterans at the Jackson Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC). The hearing took place on the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, and included two panels of former and current Jackson VAMC officials.

“It just seems like we are breaking one of our fundamental promises to the men and women who serve our nation, and that’s not providing the care that they deserve, that they have earned,” Palazzo stated. “I’m shocked, I’m sickened, I’m disgusted that we are even having this. And that this is a VA medical center that bears the name Sonny Montgomery, is not in keeping with his legacy of service.”

The Jackson VAMC has been the subject of intense scrutiny following whistleblower allegations that were substantiated by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the United States Office of Special Counsel, the Office of Investigator General, and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Among the allegations are: understaffing of personnel, overbooking of patients, lack of supervision for medical staff, fraudulent Medicare certifications, and illegal narcotics prescription policies. In one case, a veteran employee of the Jackson VAMC who came in for a routine skin graft operation was connected to a negative pressure wound therapy machine (or wound vac), forgotten for several hours, and died as a result. In addition to these gross negligences, Palazzo pointed out the failure to discipline responsible staff who committed or attempted to cover up what one witness described as “egregious errors”:

“It just sounds like the good old boy network. You know you’re either transferred, or you resign and you become a consultant somewhere within the system. There just seems to be some serious issues with the VA, and I don’t just think it’s Jackson. I think there’s management issues all across the nation, and I hope by bringing attention to this one that we can fix it so no other veterans have to endure the nightmare that they are going through in Jackson. The fact that Mr. Jenkins lost a friend, and thank you for your service as well, you lost a friend, a fellow employee and a veteran because of gross incompetence and people aren’t in jail? I’d like to know everyone that was involved in that. They should have been fired immediately.”

A full list of the two panels, as well as video exchange from Palazzo’s participation, can be found below.