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Man accused of sexually abusing vets at a VA hospital is drawing retirement benefits

Posted: 10:23 PM, Oct 26, 2016
Updated: 2016-10-28 20:43:42Z

41 Action News has uncovered the man accused of sexually abusing veterans at the Leavenworth VA hospital was allowed to voluntarily retire. Previously, VA Secretary Robert McDonald said Wisner resigned before the VA completed its investigation. 

Veterans who allege they were abused by Wisner are outraged.

"That is what is so infuriating about all this. It's like, to come back and make it through all that, and to come back and have to deal with this," said 25-year-old Jake Carlson, who received a Purple Heart for his service. 

"I'm angry right now. I am, very angry," said another veteran, who asked to keep his name out of this story. "If it would have been any one of us through the military, or VA, now you get booted for simple things, you know," he said. "And we don't get a retirement and here he is going to be collecting thousands of dollars, taxpayer dollars, our dollars, and he's getting this money for sitting in jail and the rest of us are suffering for what he's done."

In September, Sen. Jerry Moran questioned VA Secretary Robert McDonald on the handling of Wisner's case. McDonald maintained Wisner resigned. 

An internal e-mail from the VA explains how an investigation on Wisner was opened on May 19, 2014.

During the course of that investigation, Wisner admitted to inappropriately touching at least one patient. That's when the investigation was expanded, and investigators reached out to the patients he treated over the prior year. 

Before the investigation was complete, Wisner filed for retirement and was granted it officially, on June 30, 2014. He is still receiving federal payment and pension as a retiree. 

"I can't just drive up to Washington and start clunking heads together, because I know that's what everyone wants to do. But wake up. Somebody please wake up," said Carlson. 

In previous statements from the Leavenworth VA, leaders only said Wisner "left." The spokesperson did confirm to 41 Action News Wednesday he retired. 

Wisner is expected back in court next week.

Rep. Yoder says he is "disturbed" that former VA employee is collecting retirement benefits

Congressman Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) sent a letter to Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald to ask why Wisher is collecting retirement benefits from the federal government. 

"It is unconscionable that an individual under active investigation for sexual assault is allowed to receive a taxpayer-funded retirement package. I write to you today to express the outrage of my constituents and seek clarity on why this is happening," Yoder said in the letter. 

He also poses two questions "in an effort to clarify [the] situation for [his] constituents:" 

1.       Does the VA have the authority to freeze or revoke the benefits Mr. Wisner is currently collecting? If so, why has the VA not done so?

2.       Was there anything that the VA could have done differently to prevent Mr. Wisner from retiring while he was on leave and under investigation?

Read the full letter here. 

 

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Lexi Sutter can be reached at  lexi.sutter@kshb.com.

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