Whistleblowing on the VA
On this epsiode of the Whislteblowers, Ted Blickwedel, a 27 year veteran, began providing counseling services for Vet Centers in 2009. But by 2016, he realized that what was originally a people-centered approach to helping veterans had become a numbers game, where patients were rushed through appointments to meet Veterans Administration numbers expectations. Ted began to feel burned out, and he realized other counselors were having the same experience. In 2018, he emailed 1,300 Vet Center counselors across the country to learn how the VA’s expectations and bureaucratic demands were affecting them. The results were so stunning that Ted decided to blow the whistle, resulting in a Government Accountability Office report in 2020 revealing the new productivity standards were leading to counselor burnout across the country. A bill to correct these wrongs is currently pending in Congress, but it has not yet been acted upon. Ted speaks to John Kiriakou about the book he has written, Broken Promises, which chronicles his experience and provides insights into how to report problems in government agencies.