ATLANTA — Senator Raphael Warnock is demanding action from the U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs after a joint investigation between the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News.
The Democratic senator said he wants answers about what the VA will do to prevent a repeat of bureaucratic breakdowns that left piles of mail stacked up for months.
Sen. Warnock told Channel 2 investigative reporter Justin Gray that he bypassed Atlanta VA leaders and went straight to the top.
“This is serious stuff and I’m not going to rest until we get this resolved,” Warnock said.
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A joint AJC-Channel 2 investigation last year found 17,000 pieces of unopened mail sitting in basement in the Atlanta VA.
Late last month, an internal government audit found that leadership at the VA knew that the mail as piling up for nearly a year.
One veteran wrote “Please help me” on an unpaid bill.
Sen. Warnock wrote a letter Wednesday to U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough asking him to bring necessary resources to ensure an incident like this never happens again and does not take “excellent press reporting to expose and address.”
- Audit: More than half of mail that piled up at VA hospital held essential medical documents
- Atlanta VA begins processing mail that sat for months following investigation
- Sen. Jon Ossoff presses VA over mail backlog, other issues
“They shouldn’t have to go through this, which is why I sent a letter to Secretary McDonough saying that this is unacceptable and we need answers,” Warnock said.
Earlier this month, Channel 2 also reported 73-year-old Phillip Webb, a Vietnam veteran, who was brutally beaten by a staff member at the VA Clinic at Fort McPherson. He was hospitalized with a brain bleed for 3 days.
“I was trying to figure out, why did he hit me? I’m still trying to figure out, why did he hit me, you know?” Webb said.
Still weeks later, the VA has not provided Channel 2 with basic information about an arrest, charges or a police report.
While Warnock works in Washington, GOP hopefuls are on the campaign trail hoping to unseat him come November.
Channel 2′s Richard Elliot spoke with some of those candidates.
“Well Herschel Walker will support our military, and I will support our veterans because they are the reasons we are the greatest country we are today,” Republican candidate Herschel Walker said.
“The political rhetoric of all the things are bad and nobody comes through with a solution. Well we’re going to put solutions teams together and the VA will be one of the first places to start,” Republican candidate Gary Black said.
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Gray reached out to the VA for comment on Senator Warnock’s letter and they released a statement that read,
“We have received the letter from Senator Warnock and will address his concerns and ensure a timely response to his letter. The Fort McPherson incident remains under investigation.”
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