A report of the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs outlines a hostile working environment and deep mistrust with the consequences being taken out on veterans in need.
The VA has been under investigation in the past but this audit was released after hundreds of troubling interviews with current and former employees who said the Oklahoma's VA culture was hurting patients.
According to one interview with an employee, the department had a negative, secretive and dysfunctional environment that was run by "lies, deceit and secrets."
State Auditor Gary Jones found those kinds of working conditions has led to high turnover rates and a decline in the quality of care for veterans. Some employees even suggest the department's environment has led to an increase in the number of patient deaths.
"It's an issue at the top. It has to do with management, central management more than anything," said Gary Jones.
"There is a feeling of mistrust throughout the entire department. We think it was a negative impact on patient care," Jones added.
The VA's office did respond to the audit saying in a statement ,"We are presently reviewing the State Auditor's report. Where matters of significance have been raised, we look forward to taking the appropriate corrective action."
The problems at the VA echo similar problems at other state agencies like the departments of health and tourism where poor morale and toxic work cultures eventually led to the uncovering of financial problems. The audit also shows the same kinds of issues happening at the national level where there have been calls to reform the agency for years.