Former Employees, Veterans Allege Harassment at Marion VA

Former Employees, Veterans Allege Harassment at Marion VA
By: Arnold Wyrick
As the Office of the Inspector General continues with its investigation into what went wrong with complex surgeries at the Marion VA Medical Center, some of the hospital's former and current employees are coming forward with their own allegations of wrongdoing by a couple of supervisors.
"I can remember one of the first meetings we have with the staff, Mike Reed took over as Chief Engineer, he come out and said anyone over the age of 50 might as well count on thinking about retirement," said Carl Wohlwend, a former employee at the hospital.
The man Wohlwend speaks of is Michael Reed Director of the EOCD.  According to documents filed with the Department of Veterans Affairs, numerous complaints have also been filed against David Halm Supervisor of Maintenance and Operations.
"It's all related to his attitude towards the employees and his treatment of the employees.  My section was functioning like they should have, and Reed totally destroyed it in a short time.  All because I told him one time that I wasn't going to do my mid-year evaluation," said Carl Taylor, a former employee at the Marion VA.
Some of the former employees say that Reed and Halm singled them out, and forced them into early retirement because of their age.
"I was 59 1/2 and I didn't want to retire, and Reed told me these very words, 'Gordon if you don't retire within 6 months, I'll find something to fire you over.'  So I really had no choice," said Gordon Smith.
And there's even more disturbing allegations about sexual harassment and a hostile workplace.
"During a lunch break Dave Halm made a comment that women moved up at the Veterans hospital more quickly, and more easily because of what they had between their legs.  And I think Reed should have done something to Halm for saying that in front of two female employees," said Guyla Turner.
According to one former employee who recently quit at the hospital, the problems continue with the two supervisors.
"It's unbelievable unless you've been in the situation that they put you through.  And how these two individuals Reed and Halm survive doing what they do to veteran employees is not only despicable, it's unbelievable.  I witnessed things that were done to some of the ground crew that I wouldn't even treat an animal that way," said Scott Bohne.
The administrators at the Marion VA Medical Center say they're going to wait to take any actions on these allegations until they see the recommendations from the Department of Veterans Affairs multi-task, scheduled to be in Marion next week.