Charleston, WV – Today, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) released the following statement on the charges announced today in the Clarksburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) investigation.
“My heart goes out to the families and loved ones who tragically lost a Veteran and have had to endure this injustice. While overdue, today justice is finally being served. I hope today’s announcement brings some semblance of peace to their hearts and to the families who are still uncertain about the fate of their Veterans. Today’s news confirms that the nursing assistant at the Clarksburg VA Medical Center murdered Veterans under her care. As a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, I will not stop until we determine how this could have happened, and ensure it never happens again. Our Veterans deserve world-class care and their families deserve peace of mind at every step of the way,” said Senator Manchin.
Senator Manchin’s Work on Clarksburg VA Medical Center Investigation:
· July 5th 2018: Senator Manchin’s office was notified by the VA Inspector General that at least nine in-patient
s Veterans at the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center had been diagnosed with significant hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) of unclear cause over the past 9 months, and that they had opened a medical and criminal investigation into the matter.
· July 10th 2018: Senator Manchin sent a letter to then-Acting Secretary of the VA Peter O’Rourke expressing serious concerns about the unexplained episodes of hypoglycemia at the Clarksburg VA. He also clearly stated that he expected VA leadership at every level to cooperate fully with the IG investigation.
· August 26th 2019: Retired Army Sergeant Felix McDermott’s autopsy report was made public and revealed that the suspicious cases of hypoglycemia in 2018 were likely homicide.
· August 27th 2019: Senator Manchin called on IG and FBI to finish the investigation as soon as possible and met with IG Missal and Attorney General Barr.
· August 28th 2019: Senator Manchin wrote a letter to his colleagues in the Senate and publicly called on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee to conduct an investigation and hearings.
· August 30th 2019: Senator Manchin visited the Clarksburg VA and met with Director Snider and staff demanding answers while informing public through press conference at Clarksburg VA.
· September 5th 2019: Senator Manchin’s staff sent RFI to OIG and FBI asking for the resources required to complete investigation within 30 days. OIG responded that they have all the resources they need.
· September 23rd and 24th 2019: Senator Manchin’s staff met with VA and VA OIG for a briefing on policies and procedures that impacted the Clarksburg case.
· September 25th 2019: During Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing, Senator Manchin called again on SVAC to continue investigation and get to bottom of what happened.
· September 25th 2019: U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of WV, Bill Powell, asked Senator Manchin to delay any Senate investigation until the criminal investigation is complete so as not to interfere with the ongoing investigation.
· November 6th 2019: During a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on nominations, Senator Manchin demanded answers from the VA and challenged VA leadership’s role in holding the Clarksburg VA accountable.
· December 19th 2019: The Senate passes Senator Manchin’s bill, The Improving Safety and Security for Veterans Act of 2019, which requires the VA to submit detailed reports on patient safety and quality of care at VA Medical Centers. Additionally, this bill requires the VA, once the criminal investigations are completed, to submit a detailed report and timeline of events surrounding the deaths at the Clarksburg VA. A companion bill was introduced in the House on January 15th, 2020.
· January 29th 2020: At a SVAC hearing, calls again on the DOJ and VA OIG to complete the investigation and provide answers to victims’ family members
· June 5th 2020: Senator Manchin questions Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert Wilkie and Dr. Richard Stone, Executive in Charge of the Veterans Health Administration on the investigation which hit the two year mark during a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing and calls for immediate resolution
· Ongoing: Senator Manchin’s office has been working with potential victims’ families, taking their information and getting authorization forms and then sharing that with VA OIG so they can properly communicate with these families.