Sending Office: Honorable Sean P. Duffy
Request for Cosponsor(s)
Cosponsor H.R. 3042, the Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick Whistleblower Protection Act
Protect Whistleblowers from Retaliation
Supported by the Government Accountability Project; National Whistleblower Center; Project on Government Oversight
“Will you try to do something for me?” Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick asked a union representative on his last day as a clinical psychologist at the VA. “Try to get a support system so that no one else has to go through what I did. Will you please do that?”
Hours later, Dr. Kirkpatrick wrote a note for his girlfriend in Chicago, another for the kennel he wanted to take care of his dog, and one final note for the mailman: “Please call 911 – tell them to go to red barn building.” Responders would later find his
body beside a pistol, dead at 38 years old.
Months earlier, Kirkpatrick had been disciplined by the VA for suggesting that his patients were being overly medicated by other members of the staff. He mentioned that it was prohibiting him from properly doing his job, and potentially causing severe harm
to veterans. In response, his superiors suggested that he focus on his own work rather worry about others. He became the subject of increased scrutiny, his work was called into question, and over time, his mental health began to deteriorate. Months later,
Kirkpatrick was disciplined again for failings related to his declining mental health, and he was eventually asked to leave the VA. Later that day, he took his own life.
A VA investigation – triggered by the revelation that a veteran died in the same facility from “mixed drug toxicity”— later found that Kirkpatrick’s concerns had been warranted.
Dr. Kirkpatrick’s tragic story is one of the many examples why Congress must do more to protect whistleblowers against retaliation from their superiors. The
Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 cuts to the heart of these issues, providing protections for probationary period whistleblowers that are retaliated against, ensuring federal employees better understand their rights, and setting
minimum disciplinary standards across all agencies for retaliation. It also prevents employers from accessing medical files of an employee in retaliation—a problem that unfortunately exists far too often at the VA.
I respectfully ask that you join me by cosponsoring the Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick Whistleblower Protection Act. With your support, we can ensure that future employees never experience what Dr. Kirkpatrick went through. For any questions, please contact
Sam Watters at Sam.Watters@mail.house.gov
Member of Congress
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