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VA apologizes to whistleblowers facing retaliation

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Photo - James Tuchschmidt, a top official at the Veterans Health Administration, the VA's health care arm, makes an opening statement while testifying before a House Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 8, 2014. Tuchschmidt said he was sorry that VA employees have suffered retaliation after making whistleblower complaints. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
James Tuchschmidt, a top official at the Veterans Health Administration, the VA's health care arm, makes an opening statement while testifying before a House Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 8, 2014. Tuchschmidt said he was sorry that VA employees have suffered retaliation after making whistleblower complaints. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
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WASHINGTON (AP) — A top official at the Veterans Affairs Department says he is sorry that VA employees have suffered retaliation after making complaints about poor patient care, long wait times and other problems.

James Tuchschmidt, the No. 2 official at the Veterans Health Administration, apologized on behalf of the department at a congressional hearing Tuesday night.

Tuchschmidt said he was "sickened" after listening to four VA employees testify about VA actions to strike back against whistleblowers.

A federal investigative agency said Tuesday it is examining 67 claims of retaliation by VA supervisors against employees who filed whistleblower complaints. Twenty-five complaints have been filed since June 1, after a growing health care scandal involving long patient waits and falsified records at VA hospitals and clinics became public.

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