Since coming forward in 2008, as a witness for a former co-worker who was being harassed — in order to help her stop the harassment — I have been continuously harassed, punished, and retaliated against by the same people who protected the perpetrator at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Veterans Benefit Administration (VBA), Oakland VA Regional Office (Oakland VARO).
The Oakland VARO has been allowed to terrorize me and my family without consequences and they have not been stopped. The VA used the Office of Whistleblower and Accountability Act (VA OAWP) and the FBI to try to silence me. The VA refuses to conduct a formal investigation into the malfeasance committed by the Oakland VARO. I was told by OAWP the week before the FBI showed up at my home, to make me take down my internet posts, that I would not get a formal investigation, I would never know who accessed my private records (which is my legal right via FOIA), and I would never know the results of OAWP’s “informal investigation.” I also learned that the same people who I reported were illegally accessing my private information were tasked with investigating themselves!!
Since July 2017 I have been trying to get help from many people including VA leadership, OSC, OIG, OAWP, senators, U.S. Representatives, privacy officers, non-profit veterans groups and more. I even flew to Washington DC in July/August 2018 to walk the halls of the senate and visit other offices to help me.
I have also contacted the White House VA liaison Jake Leinenkrugal in July 2017 and July 2018 (I received a response with help from both emails in that he forwarded my email to OAWP). However no one has been able to stop my former managers and co-workers from harassing me. I recently received another letter from the VA with more bogus claims. I started on-line petitions and a website in order to reach more people so they would sign my petition. However, even when paying for advertisement through the major platforms I was being shadow banned. I spent thousands of dollars trying to get my message of help out. The harder I tried, the more creative I got. I started to create a comic book that would bring attention to veteran’s issues, and I was working with various artists. The FBI claimed the memes I released as teasers to the comic book made me “dangerous” and claimed that my former coworkers at the Oakland VARO were too afraid to go to work for fear I was going to storm the Oakland federal building with guns blazing. I have NEVER owned a gun and I NEVER made any threats to anyone. The only thing these people are afraid of is accountability for their illegal and unethical behavior.
My dad, who is also a veteran, has become collateral damage to the retaliation directed at me. It wasn’t enough that Oakland VARO had to target me, they went after my family. The VA has not removed the people overseeing my dad’s fiduciary program, who allowed his former VA payee to mismanage his money and sell his home with his belongings still in it, and continue to refuse to help my dad and the local district attorney. Because of the VA, my dad has lost a lot, including his home and many of his belongings. His former VA payee (a family member) could potentially get a felony for something the VA authorized this person to do, and the so-called FBI claimed I am a domestic terrorist based on lies, and both agencies are refusing to release these so-called FBI agents’ names, the VA Criminal Investigator lied to local police claiming I am a danger to my patients and coworkers thus forbidding me to go on any VA facility while their fake criminal investigation of me ensues.
When I came forward that day in 2008, I thought there were laws that protected me. I utterly had no idea that such a simple gesture, like caring for the dignity of another human-being, would have such severe and far reaching negative consequences. What is and has been happening to me is unethical and illegal. Not only is it a breach of privacy, but it is also a breach of trust. It is a disgrace when the very people who defend the rights of the American people do not have those same rights at the VA, particularly the right to have our private information protected from the people who we do not want to access our private information. As a veteran using the VA system, I recently discovered that I have absolutely no control over my private and protected information, and that VA managers have carte blanche to everything with impunity!
Anyone who has access to the Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS) with a few strokes of the keyboard can view over 30 years of information about me, from anywhere in the country, including from someone’s living room. No person, not even a government official, should have that much access to so much information about a person’s past and present life history, especially VA employees who are known to be unscrupulous. No manager or former manager or co-worker should have access to so much information about their employees or co-workers, especially the people who are responsible for forcing my resignation and who I testified against for protecting the man who I witnessed harassing a co-worker.
What I say to my doctor is no one else’s business unless they absolutely have to view the information and were authorized to view the information. It is my right to see who has accessed my private information and it is my right to restrict who sees my information. It is incomprehensible to think the VBA failed to build in safeguards in its highly touted computer program, which was allegedly designed to make processing veterans’ claims more efficient, but cannot restrict certain VBMS users from accessing specific claim files, except through antiquated security system that was designed to control paper files. This antiquated security system allowed and continues to allow people, like my former managers and co-workers, access to my protected information. It also allows managers and employees to snoop on current VA veteran employees and co-workers.
I, and many other veterans and whistleblowers, would like to know what exactly is VA’s threshold for meeting the requirements to initiate a “formal investigation”?
The only investigations that matter and carry any weight are FORMAL INVESTIGATIONS. I have been trying to get a formal investigation into my reports of malfeasance committed by the Oakland VARO for months, but I have only been met with opposition.
Obviously the VA is hiding something much bigger than my case, which is not isolated. VA managers across the nation have been illegally accessing the files of thousands of VA Veteran employees.
Please help me (and other VA veteran whistleblowers) with initiating a full and complete formal investigation, make OAWP release their “informal investigation” reports, and stop these egregious retaliatory practices by upper VA management.
Jamie Fox, USN veteran
please also read:
Mike Volpe, Investigative Journalist, article: “VA Whistleblower Visited By FBI, Sent To Psych Ward, Set To Be Terminated From Job” on The Daily Caller
Benjamin Krause, article: “VA Whistleblower Locked-Up Over Matrix Memes, FBI Denies First Amendment” on “Disabled Veterans.org”
My statement submitted to Congress found at:
“Thank you WoA for Helping Make My Voice Heard”