WASHINGTON — Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said this after the Senate confirmed Michael Missal to serve as the permanent inspector general of the Department of Veterans Affairs Tuesday:
“We have a duty to provide the best care for the finest among us, and that begins by having a permanent and independent inspector general in place,” said Johnson. “Michael Missal is the tip of the spear to restore much-needed transparency and accountability at the VA Office of Inspector General. His presence will go far toward accomplishing our shared goal of providing the highest quality care to our nation’s veterans. The VA has been plagued with problems like those at the Tomah facility in my home state, where a veteran died because of a lack of proper care and oversight. We need an IG who will boost the confidence of the American people when it comes to the care of our veterans. I thank Michael Missal for his willingness to serve and look forward to working with him to oversee the VA.”
VIDEO: Watch Chairman Johnson’s remarks on the Senate floor here.
Chairman Johnson has called for a permanent inspector general at the Department of Veterans Affairs for over a year now. In January 2015 he sent a letter to President Obama calling on him to fill the vacancy.
The VA has been plagued with failures in patient care, including the overprescription of opiates at the Tomah (Wis.) Veterans Affairs Medical Center, a scandal that has resulted in the deaths of veterans. Chairman Johnson initiated an investigation into the matter in early 2015. He convened a bicameral field hearing in Tomah in March 2013 and released an interim staff report in June 2015.
In June 2015 the VA Office of Inspector General released a white paper attacking the credibility and character of Tomah whistleblowers. Chairman Johnson also authored a bill named for Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick, a whistleblower at Tomah who took his own life after being fired for questioning excessive prescription practices at the facility.