EXCLUSIVE: VA’s New Whistleblower Protection Office Swoops In As Bedford VA Employee Experiences Retaliation Over Drug Ring Allegations
Ever since VA employee Redger Hennah blew the whistle on an apparent drug dealing scheme at the Bedford VA he’s been retaliated against in a myriad of ways, and now the VA’s new Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection is moving in to conduct a full investigation.
Hennah, an Army veteran and peer support specialist, told his bosses that employees at the facility were selling drugs to patients, and now since making those disclosures, hospital management has been trying to force him out of his job, which he’s held for close to a decade.
“The people I reported this to tried to cover it up,” Hennah told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “The hospital took away my credentials and isolated me. They said I couldn’t talk with veterans or access certain buildings. And even to this day, I’m still banned from various building, even though I’m also a patient.”
The allegations of drug dealing and retaliation have been damning enough for the FBI to start making inquiries, Hennah told TheDCNF, but despite the FBI poking around and the Office of Special Counsel taking on the case for a year and three months, not much has changed in his situation. The Office of Special Counsel is responsible for investigating whistleblower retaliation claims.
“I’ve been in the Office of Special Counsel for a year and three months and my case has been elevated, but I don’t see any results,” Hennah said. “I just see them asking questions and writing letters.” Democratic Massachusetts Rep. William Keating’s office also been writing letters to the Bedford VA in an effort to get to the bottom of the retaliation.
What’s different now is that the new VA Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection (OAWP) is getting a team on the ground in the next few days to start investigating what’s been occurring at the Bedford VA.
Curt Cashour, press secretary at the VA, confirmed to TheDCNF that OAWP is flying out to the area for an investigation.
“VA does not tolerate retaliation,” Cashour said. “We take these allegations seriously and are sending an investigative team from our Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection to the Bedford VA Medical Center next week.”
“All VA employees, regardless of protected status, are expected to be present for work at the assigned place and time,” Cashour added. “Failure of VA employees to show up for work as expected does not benefit Veterans or taxpayers and is not in keeping with VA’s Core Values.”
Hennah says his role as a peer support specialist and background as a veteran gives him a unique ability to get through to veterans seeking help from the Bedford VA.
“I talk to veterans in a way that regular employees can’t, because there’s been a disconnect in the past,” Hennah said.
“Doctors are all intellect, and I’m dialectic. I’ve taken veterans skydiving and to equine therapy. They took all that away from me.”
Now, Hennah says he’s on family leave as of about a month ago because the retaliation has started to take a toll on his mental health.
“I couldn’t take it anymore” Hennah told TheDCNF. “I had to admit myself to the hospital because I’m 100% service-connected disabled. The retaliation exacerbated my mental health. They threatened to pack up my office and pull all my belongings out of there. I don’t know if I can go back because I’ve been retaliated against so badly.”
The Lowell Sun reported in February that after Hennah blew the whistle on the drug ring operating at the facility, he walked into his office one day only to discover a teddy bear on his desk with a noose on it and a note attached that read: “GO HOME OR DIE.”
The hospital subsequently launched an investigation into the noose incident, but there have been no findings.
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