A former VA medical employee has provided testimony to Congress that indicates that VA has made efforts to cover up research concerning a connection between illnesses caused by veterans’ exposure to environmental toxins, chemicals, and other hazards.
Steven Coughlin is a former VA epidemiologist who reportedly quit working with VA in December over ethical concerns. He suggested that VA officials do not want to find a connection between certain health issues and exposure to environmental toxins and hazards. Coughlin stated that, where research revealed a positive finding, the department made efforts to make the reports as unintelligible as possible. In some instances, reports were simply never released to the public. Some of these studies cost millions of dollars to produce.
Coughlin stated that he resisted intentionally leaving relevant information out of a project that he worked on, and was then threatened with retaliation by a supervisor. Many veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have respiratory conditions that they believe is related to exposure to inhaling smoke from burn pits in combat zones. Data released from these studies could assist many veterans who are seeking VA disability benefits for their injuries and illnesses.