Oshkosh, Wis. — Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) made these remarks in response to Monday’s joint field hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) and the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee in Tomah, Wis.:
“Congress heard powerful testimony about the problems plaguing the Tomah VA Medical Center. Based on this testimony and our committee's preliminary investigation, it is clear that reforms are needed to strengthen transparency, accountability and disclosure within the VA and the VA Office of Inspector General. The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs has reported out legislation with targeted reforms designed to make sure important inspector general reports, like the nonpublic Tomah VAMC report, are publicly disclosed. Public awareness is necessary to create pressure on bureaucrats to improve and eliminate waste, fraud and abuse.
“I will work on a bipartisan basis with both House and Senate colleagues to pass this legislation as soon as possible. I also plan to introduce legislation that will enhance the VA secretary’s ability to fire “bad apples” found to be negligent in their treatment of our nation’s veterans. These bills will not solve all the problems within the VA Office of Inspector General or in the VA system, but they are important first steps.
“Our investigative team will continue its preliminary inquiry in what happened at Tomah. I urge all whistleblowers with any information about the Tomah VAMC to contact my office by emailing email@example.com.
“Finally, if the full truth about Tomah is ever to be known, the inspector general's office must cooperate with our investigation and, in the interest of transparency and accountability, disclose the case file it gathered during its three-year inquiry of the Tomah facility. With so many questions about the conclusions of the VA OIG, it is time for the office to show its work and support its decision to look the other way on the Tomah tragedies.”