A non-profit group of investigative reporters and editors recently selected the Department of Veterans Affairs as the 2016 recipient of the Golden Padlock Award, an annual award given to the “most secretive” agency or individual.
Investigative Reporter and Editors (IRE) chose the VA as the award winner because of its stringent refusal to be forthcoming about underqualified medical staff examining and evaluating brain injuries for thousands of veterans.
TEGNA TV tried to request the qualifications of medical staff, but the VA went out of its way to withhold the information, saying it “would not contribution to the public’s understanding of the Federal Government.”
But Kare11 managed to obtain the data, which showed that 25,000 veterans received Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) diagnoses by physicians not qualified to issue those diagnoses.
“The judges believed the VA represents all of the hallmark attributes that we try to honor with the Golden Padlock — secrecy, evasion and a fundamentally curious view of what contributes ‘to the public’s understanding’ of government,” IRE Executive Director Mark Horvit said in a statement.
The VA has since committed to sending letters to all veterans across the country who received shoddy exams.
“The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has conducted a special review of traumatic brain injury (TBI) examinations completed between 2007 and 2015 in support of disability compensation claims for TBI,” the letter reads. “This review revealed a number of initial TBI examinations that were not conducted by a neurologist, psychiatrist, physiatrist, or neurosurgeon. You are receiving this letter because your initial TBI exam was not performed by one of these specialists, and we are offering you the option to undergo a new TBI exam by an appropriate specialist.”
TBI is a major cause of death in the United States and is a frequent ailment of veterans coming from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
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