How to File a Complaint With the Department of Veterans Affairs

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The Veterans Administration (VA) is a huge government bureaucracy, responsible for hundreds of programs that affect active duty personnel and retirees. As such an enormous agency, different aspects of its operations fall under the responsibility of different agencies. So when things go wrong, you don't simply file a complaint with the Veterans Administration. Rather, you file a complaint with the agency, bureau or person that oversees that aspect of the VA operations.

Health Care Complaints

Call the Patient Advocate at the Medical Center

If you have a dispute about a patient's health care, call the patient advocate at the VA medical center involved. A patient advocate is an employee responsible for taking your complaint and working between different departments to obtain a satisfactory resolution for you, if possible. Call the hospital and ask for that department, or ask an employee to let a patient advocate know you require assistance. Their influence is substantial, so try to maintain cordial relations with the patient advocate despite your dispute with the facility.

Call the Patient Advocate for Employee Misconduct

You should also call the patient advocate if your dispute involves VA employee misconduct in relation to a patient's heath care. Because such allegations may also fall under the jurisdiction of other agencies, you may be asked to contact other agencies as well to document your complaint.

Call the Patient Advocate for Patient Abuse

Similarly, call the patient advocate if your dispute involves patient abuse in relation to heath care. Again, because such allegations may also fall under the jurisdiction of other agencies, you may be asked to contact other agencies to document your complaint.

Office Inspector General

Contact the Office of the Inspector General

To file a complaint, call or contact the main overseer of the VA – the Office of the Inspector General (VAOIG) – through any of the following avenues:

Call the VAOIG Hotline toll-free at 800-488-8244, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Wednesday and Friday, or 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, excluding federal holidays.

Write the VAOIG Hotline at the following address: VA Inspector General Hotline (53E), 810 Vermont Avenue N.W., Washington, DC 20420

E-mail the VAOIG Hotline by using the web form on their website (see resources). Free-form emails are no longer accepted.

Fax the VAOIG Hotline: (202) 495-7936

Include the Following Information in Your Complaint

Include the following information as part of your complaint if available, as directed by the VAOIG:

  • The VA facility or office involved.
  • The identity of the wrongdoer(s) and victim(s).
  • The alleged legal or policy violation(s) or other misconduct.
  • The effect of the wrongdoing – The date(s) when the event(s) occurred.
  • The identity of any witness(es) to the event(s).
  • Copies of relevant documents that support the allegation.
  • Whether anyone else has already reviewed the allegation.
  • An address and telephone number of the named complainant and whether he or she wants confidentiality.

Ensure Your Complaint Involves Certain Issues

Ensure that your VAOIG complaint involves one of the following areas:

  • Employee misconduct.
  • Patient abuse.
  • Serious safety violations.
  • Theft from VA beneficiaries.
  • Theft or misuse of government property.
  • False claims by beneficiaries, claimants, patients, employees or contractors.
  • Systemic problems with VA programs or operations.
  • Gross waste of funds or official time.

Call Other Agencies as Directed

Call other agencies as directed by the VAOIG Hotline, if your complaint falls under another bureaucracy's supervision.

Warnings

  • Do not exaggerate your complaints. If such exaggerations are discovered during the investigation, they will undermine your credibility.

Tips

  • Keep records of any contact you have with the VA hotline agency including dates, times, names and what the conversation involved. Keep copies of any correspondence you send or receive.