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A Third VA Executive Gets Off Without Being Fired After Appeals Process

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Jonah Bennett Contributor

A third executive at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has won her appeal after being removed from her position in December for failing to ensure that patients received safe care.

The VA has been thwarted yet again by the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), but a successful appeal does not mean that Linda Weiss, who formerly served as head of the Albany Stratton VA medical center, will be allowed to return to her post. The full details of the appeal will not be released until Feb. 16, though Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan Gibson tried to ease the situation by promising that Weiss would not return to any directorship, whether at Albany Stratton or any other facility.

He also added that Weiss refused to hold employees accountable, despite the fact that they botched patient care repeatedly.

“In my judgment, a medical center director who fails to proactively address patient safety concerns or fails to be an advocate for vulnerable veteran patients has no place in the VA,” Gibson said, according to the Times Union.

Gibson complained that the MSPB ignored his recommendations and issued its own decision, which contradicts accepted practice.

“Under the Choice Act, my judgment is owed considerable deference by the MSPB,” Gibson said. “Yet based on this and other recent decisions, it appears the MSPB does not agree with the Congress’ or the VA’s interpretation of the extent of my authority and has, once again, substituted its judgment for mine and demonstrated a willingness to second guess the VA’s application of legitimate high standards for accountability.”

It’s unclear exactly what the specific concerns are regarding Weiss and her employees, but the Times Union recently reported on an incident at the facility in which two male nurses stole medication. One of the nurses was found out of his mind with a used syringe, yet he managed somehow to evade criminal charges. A separate nurse continually slept in patients’ beds. More complaints are coming out of the facility regarding the alleged use of morphine to accelerate the deaths of patients even though they had treatable conditions.

“This is another case of government bureaucrats protecting their own, and it highlights the need for broader civil service reform across the federal government,” Concerned Veterans for America Press Secretary John Cooper told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “While entrenched special interests may celebrate the ruling, this lack of accountability has far-reaching implications for veterans, and undermines the trust we should have in the VA and its ability to provide them with the care they deserve.”

The MSPB recently ruled in favor of scandal-plagued executives Diana Rubens and Kimberly Graves, who are both infamous for illicitly collecting relocation benefits after booting subordinates out of coveted positions. The VA failed in its first attempt to demote the two, and then failed again a second time when the MSPB ruled in favor of the executives and against the VA’s wishes.

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