A manager at the Roudebush Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Indianapolis appears to mock the mental health problems of returning combat veterans in an email to her employees.
The email obtained by The Indianapolis Star contains photographs of a toy Christmas elf posing as a patient in what appears to be the hospital's transitional clinic for returning veterans. In one photograph, the elf pleads for Xanax. In another, he hangs himself with an electrical cord.
Paul remains employed at the hospital and continues to manage the clinic, earning an annual salary of $79,916. She received a $2,000 performance bonus in 2013, records show. More recent bonus information was not immediately available.80K a year plus bonuses and has the audacity to mock veterans that are killing themselves at the rate of 22 a month.
The email immediately drew outrage from veterans groups.
"It is a slap in the face to our recent and past veterans suffering from mental health issues every single day," said Ken Hylton, commander of the Indiana Department of the American Legion. "These men and women went to war and do not deserve this type of ridicule. This is a disgusting display of mockery. This is supposedly someone who is caring for our veterans, and we in the Indiana American Legion are disgusted."Immediate dismissal with the complete loss of benefits and pensions. Let that bitch beg on the street. She obviously has no business being around veterans that are having issues.He called for an investigation and the "immediate dismissal of this government employee and all of those who received this correspondence and said nothing."
Update, good news on the horizon.
State licensing board slaps VA emailer with complaint
The manager at Roudebush Veterans Affairs Medical Center who mocked veteran suicides in an email is now in hot water with the state board that licenses social workers.
The Behavioral Health and Human Services Licensing Board has filed a complaint against Robin Paul, the licensed clinical social worker who managed the hospital's transitional care clinic for returning veterans.
If a violation is found, the licensing board could issue fines, put the licensee on probation, suspend the license or revoke it, said Nick Goodwin, a spokesman for the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency.Her licence should be revoked and she should never be allowed near patients again.
Her email made national news and incensed veterans groups and members of Congress; some have called on the Department of Veterans Affairs to fire her.
"The news that a state agency is taking stronger action in disciplining Ms. Paul rather than the VA themselves is another sad example of a department run amok and surrounded in dysfunction," U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski said in a statement Wednesday.
"The only way to rectify this fiasco and rebuild trust is for the VA to hold negligent employees responsible and ensure their priority is the care of our service members, and this begins with terminating the employment of Ms. Paul."
Under intense pressure, Roudebush Director Tom Mattice placed Paul on paid administrative leave Tuesday, pending the outcome of an investigation.
But he has not explained why those actions didn't come sooner. Hospital administrators have known about the email for at least two months.
A paid vacation months after the fact. Isn't that just special. Why hasn't she been terminated yet? Congress needs to fix the broken laws so people like this will be in fear of loosing their jobs. Maybe then veterans will truly get the help we need and deserve.