BLOG: VA now more accessible, more transparent, more accountable

JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – A lot can change over time.

In November, I wrote a blog about my difficult and lengthy process of investigating past substantiated abuse cases at Mountain Home VA Medical Center. I initially struggled to get public records and many months later, received resistance when I requested an on-camera interview with the facility’s administration.

In the time since that investigation aired, Mountain Home VA has welcomed a new director. Director Dean Borsos is a veteran who said he’s committed to constantly improving.

“What are we doing and how can we do it better? I’ll always strive to make things better,” he told us in January.

Since November, U.S. Rep. Phil Roe (R), TN-District 1, earned a leadership role on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. He serves as chairman of the oversight committee.

Most recently, President Donald Trump signed compromise VA accountability legislation that Rep. Roe sponsored in the House. The legislation allows the VA to quickly fire bad employees.

In the more than seven months since our abuse investigation, we’ve found Mountain Home VA is becoming more accountable and accessible.

Earlier this year, it took a couple months to secure opioid complaints from Mountain Home VA, but administrators did not resist interviews on the topic.

On May 4, 2017, I requested “an electronic breakdown of all VA items/pieces of equipment in VISN 9 categorized as lost or stolen and that remain unaccounted for by the VA from 2011 through today.” VISN 9 is the MidSouth Healthcare Network of of the VA, which includes hospitals in Lexington, Louisville, Memphis, Nashville/Murfreesboro and Johnson City.

On June 6, 2017, the Freedom of Information Act officer responded with the requested documents. On that same day, I requested an on-camera interview with Mountain Home VA administration to talk about what the records revealed. By the next day, a VA spokesperson had a date on the calendar to sit down and interview a top administrator about this topic.

That’s what I call progress. Progress that’s appreciated. Progress that allows for more accountability, transparency and access. Thanks to that improvement, we are now able to better shed light on important issues that not only impact our veterans, but the people and country they served.

Our “Vanishing Assets” investigation airs Monday at 6 pm on News Channel 11.

Copyright WJHL 2017. All rights reserved.

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