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VA's Top Investigator Retires Amidst Calls for His Dismissal

Veterans Affairs acting Inspector General Richard Griffin, left, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)
Veterans Affairs acting Inspector General Richard Griffin, left, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)

The Veterans Affairs Department's acting inspector general has announced his retirement one day after VA whistleblowers told President Obama that the agency's top investigator had to go.

Deputy Inspector General Richard Griffin made no mention of the letter in his two-page announcement, posted to the VA IG's website. Griffin has come under criticism over the past year -- in particular after his office refused to say whether veterans placed on a secret wait list for appointments died because they did not get timely care.

The office would only go so far as to say the delays contributed to the deaths.

In his announcement Tuesday, Griffin offered up a long list of his office's accomplishments, including 25 awards for excellence from the Council of Inspectors General, as well as awards and accolades from various other federal agencies, U.S. attorneys and professional associations.

"I am writing to let you know that after nearly 43½ years of federal service I will be retiring on Independence Day, the 4th of July," Griffin wrote.

A group of VA whistleblower who organized as "Truth Tellers" told Obama in a letter that "VA employees, American taxpayers, and most importantly of all, our veterans, have lost confidence and trust in Mr. Griffin and the VA OIG."

The letter earlier was signed by Shea Wilkes of the Shreveport, Louisiana VA Medical Center and Germaine Clarno of the Hines, Ill., VA facility, according to USA Today, which quoted from the letter earlier on Tuesday.

"Our nation's veterans have earned and deserve better. Mr. Griffin should be relieved of duty immediately," the letter said.

Linda Halliday, who has been the department's assistant IG for audits since 2012, has been promoted to deputy IG and will take over the job on July 5.

"She is an outstanding leader who will take our organization to new levels of excellence," Griffin wrote.

Griffin was a senior advisor to the Department of Housing and Urban Development before joining the VA in 2008. Before than he served in the State Department as an assistant secretary for the Bureau of Diplomatic Security.

-- Bryant Jordan can be reached at bryant.jordan@military.com

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