CHICAGO – This week, Tori Richards of the Conservative Review broke a story about veterans being served cockroaches at Hines VA Hospital:
“It’s been like this for years, ever since anyone can remember,” one whistleblower said in Richards' story.
Dietetic technician Kelvin Gilkey has been a VA employee for 33 years. He recounted how PTSD-traumatized veterans in the mental health unit were served cockroaches on food trays on three different occasions last year. One veteran, in his 20s, became enraged and started swearing in disbelief, demanding to be discharged. But he would languish there another 28 days, sickened every time he had to eat a meal.
“I apologized and said I would provide him with a special tray but he refused to eat,” Gilkey said. “He went hungry for a couple of days until I convinced him to eat. He even refused to come out of his room and socialize with anyone. I told him I would take care of him.”
A second veteran didn’t eat for a few days either, but was lucky enough to be discharged within a week. The third man just accepted his fate that cockroaches were in his food, Gilkey said.
Kitchen employees have reportedly refused to come to work, afraid that they would inadvertently bring bugs home. The staff is already down 25 positions – food service funding was diverted toward overtime in the medical ward to fix a secret medical wait list scandal two years ago, said Gilkey, the SEIU union steward for the food service employees.
U.S. Senator Mark Kirk is outraged by the report. Thursday he released a statement after sending a letter to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to demand answers about allegations that food service operations at the Edward Hines, Jr., VA Hospital in Illinois are plagued by cockroaches and other unsanitary conditions.
“A veteran should NEVER be served food with a roach on their tray," Kirk said. "It's not only deplorable to find out that a roach infestation in the veteran’s kitchen has been allowed to knowingly exist for years without remedy, but once again we learn that the merry-go-round of bullied silence and coverup continues at Hines VA with impunity.”
See more at Conservative Review
As a Vietnam veteran I am appalled at the conditions my brothers are subject to. Even though I have been promised benefits as condition of my enlistments, I manage to have and pay for medical insurance rather than being treated as less than illegal immigrants. I have discussed this with my wife (also a veteran , retired) that to never take me to the VA. Dump me on a curb by a trauma center with no ID and leave me. The government and elected officials like Mark Kirk and Tammy Duckworth couldn’t care less! To them it is all about votes and empty promises and what is in it for them!
I apologize to you for the shame our fascist federal govt has brought to this nation.
I don’t know how the line of responsibility in this case is supposed to be followed but I would have to say that there are failings at numerous levels.
Is there not any oversight as to the cleanliness of the food service as there would be if it were a private business that would be answering to municipal, county or even state inspectors? Being a federal entity is there a hands off requirement of these local regulators? If so, why? Is there no federal oversight of its own practices? If not, why? It seems that government at every level wants control and regulatory power over everything except itself. Checks and balances on the operations of government entities is at least as necessary than it is over private business.
Upon notice of these charges, why hasn’t an elected federal official showed up unannounced with his or her staff armed with cameras and a few knowledgeable people to nose around the kitchen for themselves so as to be able to show and demand some sort of sense of urgency towards a remedy? Do our elected officials ever show a sense of urgency over anything except to exercise more control over the citizenry? Had a failure similar to this in the companies that I have worked for occured, heads would have rolled in a matter of hours. Why can’t I expect the same from my government?