West Virginia Record

Friday, September 20, 2019

The VA needs to protect the medical records of veterans

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By The West Virginia Record | Sep 3, 2019


Last November, following his defeat in a bid for a  U.S. House seat representing West Virginia’s Third District, Democrat former state senator Richard Ojeda announced he was launching a campaign for U.S. president, a campaign that lasted three months.

After losing the House race by a margin of more than 20,000 votes to Republican Carol Miller, Ojeda said his medical records had been stolen from a Veterans Affairs office and information contained in them used against him during the general election.

He now has filed a federal complaint seeking to compel the VA to release the results of an investigation into a claims assistant at its Huntington office who photographed the medical records of a public figure last year and sent the photo to someone.

Ojeda said he is that public figure and that the unauthorized release of his records cost him the race.

“Listen, I spent 19 months campaigning,” Ojeda boasts. “I put more than 100,000 miles on my vehicles. I knocked on thousands of doors, shook thousands of hands. I ran a good race . . . and I lost to a person who didn’t campaign.

“These people behind the scenes took things they shouldn’t have taken and basically were throwing stones at my military record,” he complains. “These people absolutely can’t hold a handle to my 24 years of military service. It’s a shame.”

Then there were the comments President Trump made when he came to campaign for Carol Miller.

“You have to wonder about the timing,” Ojeda speculates. “I was ahead in the polls. Then, Trump comes down to West Virginia saying I’m a stone cold crazy wacko. Did someone show him my records? I can’t rule anything out.”

Regardless of what damaging information might be in Ojeda’s medical records and whether or not the alleged release of them may have contributed to his defeat, the VA has a responsibility to ensure the confidentiality of all veteran records, and the persons responsible for any breach should be held accountable.

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Toriseva Law U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia Huntington Division

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