Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) released the following statement on the settlements between the United States government and seven of the victim’s families from the Clarksburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) investigation. Reta Mays, a former Clarksburg VAMC nurse, pled guilty to murdering seven Veterans at the Clarksburg VAMC in July.
“The settlements reached in the Clarksburg VAMC investigation are welcome news for our Veteran community and the families of each victim. No amount of money or admission of guilt can bring back their loved ones, but I hope that these settlements bring peace of mind to the victims’ families,” said Senator Manchin. “While these settlements are a step forward in this investigation, we are still waiting on a report from the Department of Veterans Affairs on patient safety and quality care at VA facilities, which has yet to be released months after the mandated deadline. The West Virginia Veteran community deserves transparency on how these horrible murders were able to occur at a VA facility, and I will continue to press the VA to release the report as soon as possible. The quality of care our Veterans receive at West Virginia VAMCs and VA facilities across the nation is of the utmost importance, and I will keep fighting to ensure every Veteran has access to the safe, quality healthcare they deserve.”
Senator Manchin’s Work on Clarksburg VA Medical Center Investigation
- July 5, 2018: Senator Manchin’s office was notified by the VA Inspector General that at least nine in-patients Veterans at the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center had been diagnosed with significant hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) of unclear cause over the past 9 months, and that they had opened a medical and criminal investigation into the matter.
- July 10, 2018: Senator Manchin sent a letter to then-Acting Secretary of the VA PeterO’Rourke expressing serious concerns about the unexplained episodes of hypoglycemia at the Clarksburg VA. He also clearly stated that he expected VA leadership at every level to cooperate fully with the IG investigation.
- August 26, 2019: Retired Army Sergeant Felix McDermott’s autopsy report was made public and revealed that the suspicious cases of hypoglycemia in 2018 were likely homicide.
- August 27, 2019: Senator Manchin called on IG and FBI to finish the investigation as soon as possible and met with IG Missal and Attorney General Barr.
- August 28, 2019: Senator Manchin wrote a letter to his colleagues in the Senate and publicly called on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee to conduct an investigation and hearings.
- August 30, 2019: Senator Manchin visited the Clarksburg VA and met with Director Snider and staff demanding answers while informing public through press conference at Clarksburg VA.
- September 5, 2019: Senator Manchin’s staff sent RFI to OIG and FBI asking for the resources required to complete investigation within 30 days. OIG responded that they have all the resources they need.
- September 23, 2019, and September 24, 2019: Senator Manchin’s staff met with VA and VA OIG for a briefing on policies and procedures that impacted the Clarksburg case.
- September 25, 2019: During Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing, Senator Manchin called again on SVAC to continue investigation and get to bottom of what happened.
- September 25, 2019: U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of WV, Bill Powell, asked Senator Manchin to delay any Senate investigation until the criminal investigation is complete so as not to interfere with the ongoing investigation.
- November 6, 2019: During a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on nominations, Senator Manchin demanded answers from the VA and challenged VA leadership’s role in holding the Clarksburg VA accountable.
- December 19, 2019: The Senate passes Senator Manchin’s bill, The Improving Safety and Security for Veterans Act of 2019, which requires the VA to submit detailed reports on patient safety and quality of care at VA Medical Centers. Additionally, this bill requires the VA, once the criminal investigations are completed, to submit a detailed report and timeline of events surrounding the deaths at the Clarksburg VA. A companion bill was introduced in the House on January 15th, 2020.
- January 29, 2020: At a SVAC hearing, calls again on the DOJ and VA OIG to complete the investigation and provide answers to victims’ family members
- June 5, 2020: Senator Manchin questions Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert Wilkie and Dr. Richard Stone, Executive in Charge of the Veterans Health Administration on the investigation which hit the two-year mark during a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing and calls for immediate resolution
- July 21, 2020: Senator Manchin meets with VA Inspector General Missal following the plea deal of Reta Mays on July 14th, 2020. Reta Mays, the former nursing assistant at the Clarksburg VA pled guilty to seven counts of second-degree murder and one count of assault with the intent to commit murder of an eighth person. She faces life sentences for each murder. Senator Manchin urged Inspector General Missal to ensure families receive answers and quickly conclude the investigation.
- October 1, 2020: Senator Manchin introduces legislation to improve transparency at VA Medical Centers by requiring the Secretary of the VA to submit to Congress a report on the use of VA medical centers’ security video cameras, a key missing piece of security and patient protection during the Clarksburg VA murders. This legislation would build on Senator Manchin’s, The Improving Safety and Security for Veterans Act of 2019.
- October 10, 2020: Following the tentative settlement between the United States government and the families of six victims, Senator Manchin calls on VA leadership to be held accountable for the murders that happened under their watch, and strongly urges the VA Inspector General to complete their report
- December 4, 2020: Senator Manchin’s bill, The Improving Safety and Security for Veterans Act of 2019, was signed into law. The bill passed the House of Representatives in November 2020 and passed the Senate in December 2019 and will require the VA to submit detailed reports on patient safety and quality of care at VA Medical Centers. Additionally, this bill requires the VA, once the criminal investigations are completed, to submit a detailed report and timeline of events surrounding the deaths at the Clarksburg VAMC.
- December 16, 2020: Senator Manchin speaks with VA Inspector General Missal to check on the status of the OIG investigation into Clarksburg VAMC and is briefed that the report will not be released until Reta May’s sentencing hearing is completed. Senator Manchin urges Inspector General Missal to publish the report as soon as possible and to brief the VA on any key findings related to management of the Clarksburg VAMC.
- Ongoing: Senator Manchin’s office has been working with potential victims’ families, taking their information and getting authorization forms and then sharing that with VA OIG so they can properly communicate with these families.