Even if you have reached the point where #VAFails don’t shock you anymore, this one will shock you. A group of Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) employees – administrative law judges, attorneys and managers to be specific – were discovered to have created a listserv called the “Forum of Hate.” This forum served as a place for these employees to make racist, degrading, and otherwise wildly inappropriate comments about their co-workers and veterans they were supposed to serve.
For years, these high-level employees took turns demeaning their fellow employees, their superiors, veterans, and even then-Secretary Eric Shinseki himself. They complained about their hours, their compensation, the hours and compensation of others, the work ethics of others, and made lewd comments based on co-workers’ race and gender.
That isn’t the shocking part. These emails came to light in 2015. The administrative law judges involved in the abhorrent behavior, who are “in charge of impartially weighing whether veterans should get disability compensation,” have not been fired. To put this into the clearest terms –these judges participated in forums while at work in which veterans were referred to as “shit” and they are technically still employed. This is exactly what is meant by VA’s “toxic culture” – an utter lack of accountability for extreme misconduct.
The case has been referred to the Merit Systems Protection Board, who, last year, reversed the VA’s decision to fire two executives that gamed the hiring system to get transfers to jobs with less responsibility at the same pay rate. This is the federal employee justice system at work. This is what happens when the VA tries to fire employees with a complete lack of integrity and empathy for the veterans they serve. This is the reason the VA Accountability First Act of 2017 must become law.
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