Self-proclaimed whistleblower feels retaliation from VA, he says
(WMC) - Retaliation from Veterans Affair: It's what one former employee says he feels is happening to him.
Self-proclaimed VA whistleblower Sean Higgins talked to the media about being fired from the Memphis VA Medical Center.
The United States Air Force veteran feels he's being retaliated against because of information he divulged that launched an investigation by the VA Inspector General's Office.
"I didn't consider myself the sacrificial lamb. I thought the government would keep its promise to protect whistleblowers," he said.
Higgins also exposed the more than $1.5 million in bonuses being paid to upper management that gained national attention, among other major unjust firings like OSHA violations for mold and mildew and contaminated dialysis machines.
He claims he went to the hospital director for help and three days before the VA Secretary's visit he was fired for inappropriate conduct.
"The detail they gave me was during a meeting I, in a seated position, I pointed my finger at three supervisors," Higgins said.
"The president has already gone on record and said don't make the whistleblower an adversary, bring him in," veterans advocate Randy Wade said.
Higgins first started working at the VA in 2007. He won an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission case against the Memphis VA in 2009.
Even after being fired, Higgins says he would still take his job back if reinstated.
"I would take it cause I love serving veterans," he said.
The VA released the following statements Wednesday:
The Memphis Veterans Affairs Medical Center fully supports the Whistleblower Protection Act. In keeping with the commitment of the Department of Veterans Affairs to whistleblower rights and protections, documents from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel related to these rights and protections are posted in every work area of the medical center. In compliance with privacy laws which prohibit sharing personal, protected information of employees and Veterans, we are unable to speak to any matter that would compromise an individual's right to privacy. We remain unwavering in our commitment of excellence to those whom we serve.
On August 26, 2014 at 10:45 PM, contractors installing cabinets in the dialysis unit at the Memphis VA Medical Center inadvertently cut a water line to the unit's Reverse Osmosis system. Due to the incident, the dialysis unit is closed for repairs. Veterans scheduled for dialysis treatment on August 27, 2014 were contacted and informed that arrangements had been made for them to receive dialysis treatment locally through non-VA sources. Until repairs are completed, all Veterans scheduled to receive dialysis treatment will be treated locally at non-VA sources and at VA expense. Our highest priority is the care and safety of our Veterans.
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