VA Medical Center whistleblower to be honored at First Amendment Award

MANCHESTER – The late VA Medical Center doctor who led a group of colleagues to expose poor conditions at treatment at the Manchester facility and prompt a nationwide VA review is the recipient of the 2019 Nackey S. Loeb First Amendment Award.

Dr. William ‘Ed’ Kois will be honored at the 17th annual event at 7 pm, Nov. 19, at the Palace Theatre.

The featured speaker will be Trish Regan, host of Trish Regan Primetime on Fox Business Network. The Loeb School’s long-time executive director and former Associated Press newsman David Tirrell-Wysocki will be recognized with the Nackey S. Loeb Quill & Ink Award.

Dr. Kois used his medical training as a spinal cord specialist to help ease pain and improve the lives of his patients. He used his sense of what is right and his First Amendment rights of free speech, free press and petitioning the government to touch the lives of countless other VA patients.
He led a group of 11 physicians and medical employees who contacted a federal whistle-blower agency and the Boston Globe Spotlight Team to say the Manchester VA was endangering patients. Dr. Kois died in July.

Tirrell-Wysocki has been at the Loeb School since it was founded in 1999, as an instructor and curriculum coordinator, then as executive director since 2007, greatly expanding the school’s classes and workshops and building collaborations with other organizations. He is retiring at the end of the year.

The First Amendment Awards Event is the only fundraiser for the nonprofit school, which was founded in 1999 by Nackey S. Loeb, the late president and publisher of the Union Leader and Sunday News. Its free classes and low-cost workshops attract students from middle-schoolers to retirees. Instructors from media outlets and businesses around the state teach topics such as the First Amendment, journalism, photography, broadcasting, audio and video production, social media and public speaking.

Tickets are available at www.palacetheatre.org or 603-668-5588 — $50 for the awards program, $100 for the program and pre-event reception.

Past First Amendment Award recipients are: former NH Attorney General Philip McLaughlin, former Keene Sentinel Executive Editor Thomas Kearney, The Laconia Citizen, former legislator Daniel Hughes, former Dover City Councilor David Scott, Londonderry High School Journalism Adviser Mary Lukas, First Amendment attorney William Chapman, ConVal School Board member Gail Pierson Cromwell, The Portsmouth Herald, David Lang and the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire, The Telegraph of Nashua, slain journalist James Foley, former Portsmouth Police Officer John Connors, citizen activists Donna Green and the late David Pearl, Right to Know NH and columnist and speaker Robert Azzi.

Previous recipients John Howe (Laconia Citizen) and Mary Lukas are First Amendment Award judges, along with retired New Hampshire Supreme Court Justice Richard Galway, retired Foster’s Daily Democrat Editor Rod Doherty and First Amendment attorney Gregory Sullivan.

Previous Quill & Ink Award recipients are: Circuit Court Judge James Carroll; Debi Clark Valentine of the YMCA’s Youth & Government Program; the late Robert Foster, publisher of Foster’s Daily Democrat; Mike Pride, retired editor of the Concord Monitor; Claire Ebel, retired director of the ACLU in New Hampshire and First Amendment Attorney Gregory Sullivan.

Led by Presenting Sponsor People’s United Bank, the 2019 First Amendment Event sponsors and supporters include: EverSource Energy, The Brodsky Prize, AutoFair, Bryant ‘Corky’ Messner, AT&T, Brady Sullivan Properties, McLane Middleton and The Common Man Family of Restaurants.

Other sponsors are: Bruce Crochetiere; Consolidated Communications; Elliot Health System; Joseph McQuaid; Citizens Count NH, Live Free or Die Alliance; BAE Systems; Citizens Bank; Fidelity Investments; Daniel and Carol Hughes; Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Services University; Amoskeag Beverages; Bellwether Community Credit Union; Cross Insurance; Joyce and Daniel Levesque; Sean and Kirsten Mahoney; Northeast Delta Dental; St. Mary’s Bank; Union Leader Corp.; AARP; Bernstein Shur Group; Business and Industry Association; Douglas, Leonard & Garvey; Dumont Communications; Louis Karno & Co Communications; Primary Bank; and Keystone Press.

Media partners:the New Hampshire Union Leader, WMUR-TV and WGIR.

For more information, visit www.loebschool.org or call 627-0005.

Media contact:
David Tirrell-Wysocki
603 340-3619
dtwysocki@loebschool.org

Dr. William ‘Ed’ Kois