The Daily Caller just published another story showing how VA continues to stick it to whistleblowers by attacking their credibility, but this one went too far.
A veteran social worker at VA received a scary visit from FBI agency inquiring in her memes she posted on twitter about her whistleblower experience. Rather than the FBI investigating her allegations, they turned their investigation against the whistleblower.
Here, Jamie Fox, a veteran turned social worker at VA, reported wrongdoing that was ignored. As a favor, FBI not only visited, but they triggered her well-known PTSD. After she calmed down and reported for work, a VA criminal investigator called the local police.
The local police then put Fox on 72-hour psych hold even though she was not in the middle of a psychotic episode. “I feel violated,” Fox said of the entire affair. “[The VA] know[s] my vulnerabilities, and they use them against me.”
As a journalist turned attorney, I have heard a ton of stories from veterans and their spouses about whistleblowing as an employee or as a veteran client. The moves tend to be the same each time. Once VA realizes the veteran will not accept their voodoo, the official always move to the next level – – to discredit the unhappy sole.
Usually, VA will lie or mischaracterize details about the person to anyone willing to help with the goal of driving a wedge between the lawmaker or attorney. Once the veteran is discredited to enough people, eventually a rhetorical velocity is created, and the veteran becomes isolated.
Once isolated, the veteran can easily be attacked or marginalized.
From TheDCF On Fox Harassment
According to TheDCF, in italics below:
Fox said her problems began again when she noticed her C-File — a folder created by VA that contains all relevant information on a veteran — could be accessed without authorization. In Fox’s case, it included her psychologist’s notes and other sensitive, personal information.
As Fox kept digging, she learned something even more frightening. “In learning how my former coworkers and managers have continued access to my private and protect information, I learned that the VA computer system called [the Veterans Benefit Management System] VBMS is not secure,” she said.
In a statement prepared on December 3, 2018, Fox said:
The VA cannot keep certain people out of certain people’s files. My former managers and coworkers can pull up all of my records from military, work, medical, etcetera from a laptop in their home and show anyone they want my information. None of my conversations with my doctors are private, including my therapy records.
The VBMS “is the computer system which the VA uses to process VA claims,” Fox explained. “It’s a [Veteran Benefits Administration] VBA system.”
Fox said that employees can access sensitive data from her and other patient files with impunity.
An April 2016 VA Office of Inspector General report supported Fox’s claims, finding that the VBA “failed to integrate suitable audit logs that clearly reported all security violations occurring in VBMS.”
Fox said after months of trying she has still not been given a full accounting of who accessed her C-File.
Fox said that she went everywhere for help, repeatedly hitting brick walls with the intransigent bureaucracy.
“Not only do I have documentary evidence that these people violated laws, including the most recent Whistleblower protection law forbidding coworkers and managers from accessing employees’ private information — I also have a lot of communication with various people including current and former VA leadership regarding all of my fears and pleas for help,” Fox said in the same statement. Frustrated with the process, Fox developed memes based on the Matrix with hopes of turning said memes into a comic book based on her experiences.
She tweeted the memes out starting in March 2018 and continued until the FBI appeared at her home.
Fox continued, “Since July 2017 I have been trying to get help from many people including VA leadership, Office of the Special Council, Office of the Inspector General, Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, senators, U.S. Representatives, privacy officers, non-profit veterans’ groups and more.”
The agency who came to Fox’s home reportedly told her she has no First Amendment right to post memes on her own private Twitter account and demanded she take them down. She apparently capitulated. Hours later, local police showed up at her home while she was at VA working.
She came home to figure out what was happening, and the police locked Fox up in 72-hour psych hold based on what VA said about her. Fantastic.
So what will happen about her whistleblower claims? Are these connected?
The story makes me wonder precisely what these different agencies are developing regarding databases about veterans. Perhaps we should all put in requests?