Vet brings awareness to whistleblower laws with cross-country walk
A Gulf War veteran who wants to raise awareness about corruption and fraud, which he says he personally witnessed while working for the Northern Arizona VA health care system, has taken his message to the streets in a cross-country walk-a-thon.
Steven Jacoby, 40, left his home in Arizona February 29, setting off on a 2,300-mile journey to Washington, D.C., on foot. It was a decision he had made only the day before, compelled by a desire to fix all of the fraud and wrongdoing by drawing attention to it. In June he had reached Tennessee, where he told Cookeville’s Herald-Citizen his story.
“After I got out of the military, I had my life for awhile as a stockbroker,” Mr. Jacoby, who served in the Gulf War in 1990 and 1991, told the Herald-Citizen. “But then I started working for the Northern Arizona VA Healthcare System in Prescott, Arizona. I was in the engineering department in program support, which meant I dealt with a lot of the accounting, and I caught the executives embezzling and receiving kick-backs and stealing building supplies.”
Mr. Jacoby said he reported the fraudulent activity, but no action was taken and he was forced to resign. He told the Herald-Citizen that the whistleblower laws and protections aren’t working for him and other veterans who report wrongdoings they witness.
“So, whenever a veteran reports a crime of the VA executives, we get fired or forced to resign,” he told the Herald-Citizen.
On his website, Mr. Jacoby says that like many other whistleblowers, he “was subjected to a campaign of terror tactics that included defamation of character, lies, slander and mental anguish culminating in a forced resignation.”
Mr. Jacoby has walked through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Tennessee. He will continue walking 10 to 35 miles per day through Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania before he reaches the Capitol.
He told the Herald-Citizen that he has picked up a lot of interest and support along the way because Americans are tired of the corruption. He hopes to have 100,000 veterans and other Americans walking with him in the final stretch.
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