September 07, 2018

Warren Calls on Veterans Affairs Secretary to Provide Long-Overdue Update of Criminal Investigation into Death of Veteran at Bedford VA

New England VA Leadership Commits to Providing Senator with Copies of Recent Inspections of Bedford Nursing Home

Text of letter (PDF)

 Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) today pressed Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Robert Wilkie, for an update on the status of the criminal investigation into the alleged misconduct that contributed to the death of a Vietnam veteran and patient, William R. Nutter, Jr., in 2016, and any additional active investigations into the Bedford VA. Senator Warren also informed Secretary Wilkie that she obtained a verbal commitment from New England Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) Director Ryan Lilly to provide an update on the status of the investigation into the death of Mr. Nutter and copies of all announced and unannounced inspections and reviews of the Bedford VA since January 1, 2016.

Senator Warren's letter follows a new report of abuse and neglect of veterans by certain employees at the Bedford VA. On September 4, the Boston Globe detailed allegations of inadequate care at the veterans' nursing home on the campus of the Bedford VA and an atmosphere in which both patients and staff are fearful of retaliation. In her letter, the senator noted that she visited the Bedford VA last year with then-VA Secretary David Shulkin and met many of the staff there - most of whom are hardworking and dedicated. But it's clear that there are systemic problems in the delivery of care to veterans.

"I am growing sick and tired of hearing and reading heart-wrenching story after heart-wrenching story about veterans treated as if their sacrifices for our country do not matter," wrote Senator Warren. "It is clear that the Bedford VA is troubled and requires sustained, senior-level oversight and accountability. After this latest report, I lack confidence in the VA's ability to effectively provide such oversight."

Reports indicate that William Nutter - a Vietnam War veteran who served 21 years in the U.S. Army Reserves - died in part due to the neglect of a nurse who was playing video games while on duty instead of monitoring Mr. Nutter, who suffered from an arrhythmia that ultimately led to cardiac arrest. Last October, Senator Warren wrote to then-Secretary Shulkin asking that he work to expedite the VA Inspector General's (IG) investigation into the allegations regarding Mr. Nutter's death under the care of the Bedford VA and brief her staff on its outcome. Shulkin responded in writing that the ongoing nature of the investigation compelled him to withhold any comment at the time. 

Ten months have passed without any substantive update on Mr. Nutter's death. In light of new reports on continued problems at the Bedford VA, Warren renewed her demand for VA Secretary Wilkie to have his staff provide a comprehensive briefing on the outcome of the investigation into the death of Mr. Nutter at the Bedford VA, including any disciplinary action taken against Bedford VA employees, as soon as the investigation is completed.