Local connection found in VA scandal

Veterans Affairs
(WISH Photo/ Doug Moon)

INDAINAPOLIS (WISH) – I-Team 8 is breaking new information about one of the “veterans affairs employees” forced out, amid the V-A scandal. I-Team 8’s chief investigative reporter Karen Hensel has identified a local connection for every Indiana veteran.

When the VA scandal broke in Phoenix top officials at the VA were “removed”. It couldn’t be confirmed who was removed, or whether they were fired or allowed to retire.

I-Team 8 is now confirming the top person is out and once was director of the Roudebush VA Medical Center here in Indianapolis. Also on Wednesday the FBI launched a criminal investigation.

Susan Bowers was the network director over the VA Southwest Health Care network since 2008. She oversaw VA hospitals and facilities, including 267,000 patients, in Arizona, New Mexico and West Texas. Prior to Bowers serving as the network director she was director of the Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis.

I-Team 8 spoke to her as part of an investigation in 2007 about computers stolen from Roudebush.

Bowers told us then, “We are very concerned about what has happened here”.

While in Indianapolis Bowers oversaw Roudebush’s 1,700 employees and a 150 bed facility from 2004-2008. According to VA documents, she also managed a $9.9 million grant from the Lilly endowment.

What they called “one of the largest gifts presented to the VA”. Bowers left Roudebush to become the VA regional director in Phoenix. She was in charge when employees concocted secret waiting lists to cover up appointment delays. Forty patients died waiting.

Did any of this happen during Bowers time here in Indianapolis? I-Team 8 asked Roudebush if there will be an investigation on behalf of Indiana veterans; a response is yet to be returned.

Indiana Senator Dan Coats was among 21 senators pushing for the FBI investigation.

On the senate floor Wednesday Coats said, “In my home state of Indiana, confirmed audit findings showed veterans endured unacceptably long wait times with some Hoosier veterans never even receiving an appointment. “

To put it in perspective, Coats says his Indianapolis office has 550 active cases of veterans who have called needing help because of backlogs and delays.

I-Team 8 was told earlier this week by a Roudebush spokeswoman, they did not know of any secret wait times here. But Roudebush was audited in May of 2014. It’s why I-Team 8 is now asking about those years Bowers was medical director 2004-2008.


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