Federal lawmakers respond to Salem VA investigation

Medical monitors photographed in a Salem VA bathroom (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

SALEM (WSLS 10) - Federal lawmakers are responding to a WSLS 10 investigation into the Salem VA Medical Center that found $1.7 million in equipment was reported missing.

A VA employee who wanted to remain anonymous told us "Sometimes there's a priority to look for it [the equipment] and sometimes there's not a priority to look for it."

Our eight month investigation into hundreds of pages of documents shows of the more than 1,100 individual items reported lost only 198 were ever reported found. Nearly one thousand items worth more than $1.3 million written off the books.

Congressman Bob Goodlatte says he is "greatly concerned about these allegations". Meanwhile the offices of Senator Mark Warner and Senator Tim Kaine have asked for a response from the VA after our report aired.

Our investigation found:

- Salem VA reported more than $1.7 million in missing equipment over the last 5 years

- $1.3 million written off the books

- Records not being kept correctly

- Equipment being stored in bathrooms

- Security concerns of patient records, medical wards, offices and storage areas

- VA manager admits findings are "concerning"

Congressman Bob Goodlatte says:

Any allegations of lax security and misuse of taxpayer dollars at the Salem VA must be taken seriously. It is imperative that our veterans receive high quality, accessible care in a safe environment, and I am greatly concerned about these allegations and their potential impact on our local veterans. The Veterans Administration must be held accountable to both the veterans who have bravely served our nation as well as American taxpayers. My office stands ready to assist in this effort as the House of Representatives continues to demand accountability from the VA."

From a Senator Mark Warner spokesperson:

Senator Warner is aware of the concerns, and his office has been in touch with the Salem VA to follow up on them. The VA has a responsibility to ensure that there are adequate controls in place to properly track inventory, and that employees have a safe process for pointing out waste, fraud or abuse if and when it occurs."

From a Senator Tim Kaine spokesperson:

Senator Kaine believes accountability and transparency at the VA are critical issues. Our office has asked the VA for more information on the reports of missing items and security issues."

About the Author:

You can see Jenna weekday mornings at the anchor desk on WSLS 10 Today from 5-7 a.m. She also leads our monthly Solutionaries Series, where we highlight the creative thinkers and doers working to make the world a better place.