The Department of Veterans Affairs fired former Washington, D.C., VA Medical Center Director Brian Hawkins Wednesday for “failure to provide effective leadership” at the D.C. Medical Center.
As reported by Christian News Alert, the VA stated they had the ability to fire Hawkins solely because Trump was president. They cited the VA Accountability Act created by Trump in June, which enabled them the authority to remove Hawkins from the department.
According to the VA, Hawkins’ dismissal is part of a renewed commitment to take care of their veterans by removing problem employees. “We at VA will use the authorities available to ensure our veterans get the highest quality service and care possible. This is the right decision for veterans in D.C. and employees at the medical center, and underscores our commitment to hold employees accountable if they fail to do their jobs or live up to VA’s values.”
This is the second time the VA fired Hawkins. According to Washington Examiner Hawkins was fired in early August because he was sending emails containing sensitive information about the department to his wife. He also allegedly had management problems, which caused him to be incapable of performing his leadership role.
The Washington Post reports that investigators revealed what they called the “highest levels of chaos” at the medical facility, saying there was nearly $150 million in medical supplies that had failed to be inventoried.
This failure to effectively manage supplies caused sterile surgical items to be kept in areas that hadn’t been sanitized, and nurses were struggling to find items needed in cases of emergency, such as oxygen tubes.
Yet the VA was forced to rehire Hawkins when he appealed to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), who required the rehire pending a review of the incident. VA Secretary David Shulkin said these types of workarounds and other laws make it nearly impossible to remove employees who prove to be corrupt or unproductive.
Shulkin vowed that he would not allow such individuals to work with the veterans, no matter what. “No judge who has never run a hospital and never cared for our nation’s Veterans will force me to put an employee back in a position when he allowed the facility to pose potential safety risks to our veterans. Protecting our veterans is my most important responsibility.”
Shulkin was forced to rehire Hawkins per orders from the MSPB, but true to his words, he ensured that Hawkins would not be permitted to be involved with the patients. In April, Hawkins was relocated to a different position within the department and his previous role of hospital director was given to retired Army Col. Lawrence Connell — until finally being able to fire Hawkins on Wednesday.
The VA Accountability Act was signed by Trump for issues such as these, according to Washington Times. Trump created the bill in response to the scandals that kept occurring under the VA during the Obama administration, such as veterans dying while they were waiting for negligent doctors.
According to Trump, “What happened was a national disgrace and yet some of the employees involved remained on the payrolls. Our veterans have fulfilled their duty to this nation, and now we must fulfill our duty to them.”
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