Monday, May 20, 2013

STARS AND STRIPES: VA Researcher Quits Over Alleged VA Deployment Health Research Coverup

In the story below, the well deserved press blasting VA continues.  The story below is yet another in the dozens regarding former senior VA researcher-turned-whistleblower Steve Coughlin's serious allegations regarding VA's mishandling and "research" coverup of Gulf War and other deployment health issues.  

VA's many failures of Gulf War veterans were addressed in an appropriately critical March 13th Congressional investigative and oversight hearing.  This one is in Stars and Stripes, a leading publication for current military forces.  One can only imagine the impact on troop morale of such sadly accurate news coverage regarding the federal government's ineptitude and covering up of serious deployment health outcomes.

To date, there has been no public announcement from VA Secretary Eric Shinkeki regarding how -- or if -- he has heard the message loud and clear and is pledging to correct these many serious wrongs.  That is the story that should be published in troop publications like Stars and Stripes.  

Instead, it's just more about VA's continued failures of Gulf War veterans, where 22 years after the war VA still has no effective treatments for Gulf War Illness, in several key offices still denies Gulf War Illness as a unique and identifiable condition even exists, and without a serious shakeup in VA's research and public health offices remains worthy of last year's "No Confidence" finding by the federal advisory body responsible for overseeing Gulf War health research efforts.

When will VA get it right?



SOURCE:  Stars and Stripes, via The (Panama City, Fla.) News Herald.  Randal Yakey reporting

VA researcher quits over burn pit studies

PANAMA CITY — Steven Coughlin had enough. He packed up and left D.C.
Coughlin was a research epidemiologist who was working on behalf of Veterans Affairs in Washington, D.C. When he found the impact of burn pits on veterans was going to be left out of a study he was working on, he quit, packed his bags and moved out West.
“I just couldn’t go along with what they were doing,” Coughlin said.  
In a series of emails between him and his boss, Aaron Scheniederman, that were obtained by The News Herald, the two clashed over what was being released and what was being held back from public view.
“There were areas of this study that were completely ignored,” said Coughlin, who resigned after he was told to ignore information regarding burn pits in the Middle East.
Coughlin said anything that linked the burn pits to lung problems in military personnel was to be left out of the study.
“My direct supervisor, Aaron Scheniederman, told me to ignore information on asthma or bronchitis,” Coughlin said.
Coughlin said he was harassed and threatened with repercussions to his professional career if he continued to push for the burn pit impact to service members be added to the study.
Coughlin said his information shows as many as 30,000 veterans of the conflicts in the Middle East suffered health effects from burn pits.
The VA issued a statement regarding Coughlin’s allegations: “The department depends on this research to inform our decisions and guide our efforts in caring for Gulf War Veterans. All allegations of malfeasance are taken seriously and are investigated fully.
“The secretary has directed the Office of Research Oversight to review the allegations and report their findings. VA is precluded by the Privacy Act from discussing personnel matters concerning individual employees.”

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