Date of Award

Summer 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Sociology & Criminal Justice

Committee Director

Ruth A. Triplett

Committee Member

Randolph R. Myers

Committee Member

Tim Goddard


Over the last few years the Department of Veterans Affairs has faced an increase of public scrutiny for its handling of veteran health care claims. Allegations that mismanagement created extensive waiting times and appointment scheduling manipulations resulted in veterans dying were made against the VA. This research examined data from the VA Monday Morning Workload Reports, the National Survey of Veterans, the VA Office of Inspector General, and media reports of whistleblowers accusing the VA of mismanagement to determine whether the VA was guilty of a state crime of omission and commission resulting in a social harm to its veterans. This study found that the VA met several indicators identified in previous literature in that the VA 1) failed to act in a timely and appropriate manner in response to the problem, 2) had prior knowledge of the problem, and 3) that there was significant public and political response to the problem. Therefore, this study demonstrates that the VA committed a state crime of omission through its inactions and a state crime of commissions for its direct actions and role in attempting to manipulate records. Furthermore, this study also shows that the VA’s inactions and actions have resulted in a growing social harm to its veterans wherein veterans, their families, and their communities face higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), suicide, intimate partner violence (IPV), homelessness and other criminogenic consequences than those of the civilian population.