WASHINGTON (CBS DC) – Over a year before the scandal at Phoenix’s VA hospital broke, the head of the local NAACP warned about management problems there, reports KNXV-TV.
Rev. Oscar Tillman tells the station the civil rights organization documented cases of abuse and mismanagement in 2012 and wrote a letter detailing them to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki in October of that year.
“You can call it bullying, they can call it intimidation, but the discrimination is rampant, rampant within the VA,” he said.
But Tillman, himself a disabled veteran who served 23 years in the Air Force, says his letter was ignored by the federal government. So he next wrote to Senator John McCain, R-Ariz. Again, he says, his letter got no response.
McCain’s office tells the station the charge is untrue. “Our office immediately forwarded his concerns to the VA’s Congressional Affairs Office in Washington, and within weeks he received a personal letter from then-Phoenix VA head Sharon Helman offering to meet to discuss his concerns.”
Tillman stands by his claim, saying the issue is only getting attention now because of the upcoming mid-term elections.
“In a political hot year, seems like everybody is jumping on and saying something about it,” he said.
Tillman says he has have proof of the mismanagement, including employees who were inappropriately hired into top positions. He said he is willing to share the information with investigators.
“I have that. I even have their position numbers. So they cannot deny it. I know who they are,” he said.
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