BECKLEY, W.Va. (WVVA) The Beckley VA Medical Center is taking steps to ensure the ‘immediate safety of patients’ following reports of sexual assaults at the hospital.
A day after VA Inspector General Michael Missal announced a thorough federal investigation of the claims, a veteran has come forward with his story.
At his request, WVVA News has taken steps to protect his identity and will simply refer to him as ‘John Doe.”
After a back injury from his time in the U.S. Army, he said he sought out treatment at the Beckley VA Medical Center. For a long time, he was referred to a physicians outside the hospital for treatment of pain. But when the VA obtained an in-house physician in 2018, all of that changed.
“He was happy go lucky…really friendly. He seemed decent.”
Then, he said, the procedure started. That’s when the veteran realized what was happening to him was far from decent.
“I was shocked at the beginning. Is this really happening? You trust a doctor. You think maybe this is a medical procedure. But afterwards, I got to thinking I was abused.”
Doe confided in his wife, but ultimately did not report the matter.
“You feel ashamed. You feel dirty. You feel embarrassed. You don’t want this to come out. You can’t explain it until you’ve been there.”
While Doe did not come forward, attorney Stephen New said Monday one of his clients did. He said the patient reported the matter to a VA counselor.
“It seems that the VA, either the management there or the therapists they were seeing, blew off their concerns and did not report their concerns through the chain of command until people kept complaining and got a hold of the Inspector General or someone who would pay attention to them.”
WVVA News reached out to the Beckley VA Medical Center on the patients’ claims. A spokesperson issued the following response:
“As soon as the Beckley VA Medical Center discovered these allegations, we immediately brought them to the attention of the VA’s independent inspector general on June 12. Additionally, the Beckley VAMC fired this individual.
VA has made clear it will hold employees accountable when they fail to live up to the high standards Veterans and taxpayers expect, and that’s exactly what happened in this case.
This is an isolated incident and as the independent IG said, the facility “has taken steps to ensure the immediate safety of its patients.”
VA is cooperating fully with the independent IG’s ongoing investigation.