The U.S. Office of Special Counsel is now investigating the claims of a whistleblower who revealed the use of a secret appointment wait list at the Shreveport VA hospital — including 37 veterans who died awaiting care.

Mental health social worker Shea Wilkes contacted the media in June, saying his bosses and the VA Inspector General had done nothing to address his year-old complaints about excessive wait times. In fact, Wilkes’ attorney, Richard John, says the IG turned the tables on his client, opening a criminal investigation into how Wilkes obtained the list he used as evidence to show patients were not receiving adequate care at the Overton Brooks VA Medical Center.

The Special Counsel — an independent office established that protects whistleblowers and reports to the president — wants to get to the bottom of the secret appointment list and find out why Wilkes has not been granted whistleblower protection.

“The Special Counsel is really interested in helping,” Wilkes said.

Their investigation was opened last fall after Wilkes sent them a letter that said in part:

“What I find astonishing is that the majority of the OIG’s investigation is not into the allegations mentioned above but in only how I obtained the mental health waiting list … Numerous employees within Mental Health service have expressed an interest in speaking with the OIG and I have relayed this to the OIG but still at this point OIG has not spoken with many of the mental health staff members that have information related to the manipulation of appointment times etc.

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