As President Obama visits the Veterans of Foreign Wars today, it should be very clear that his Administration has repeatedly let veterans down. Despite Congress passing a major reform bill to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) last year and the ousting of the former VA chief after calls from Congress for accountability, the VA has nonetheless slow walked reform.
In fact, it took well over two years after the government accountability office reported a backlog in disability claims and over a year after news of the wait time scandal broke for the first criminal charges to finally be made. The manager of a VA in Georgia was finally put on leave for ordering his staff to lie about veteran medical records—paid leave that is. The fact that this is the first criminal charge after so large a scandal that has been known about for so long is outrageous.
President Obama may not be driving past the VA in his motorcade while ignoring the problem anymore, but veterans are still no better off. There are now 50 percent more veterans on wait list for a month or more than when the scandal started, a new report found nearly one-third of veterans waiting for healthcare at the VA are already dead, and only two people have been successfully fired for manipulating wait times.
The gross incompetence demonstrated by this Administration’s inability to reform the VA is a scandal in itself.
To care for our veterans the way they deserve, we can start by getting rid of employees whose incompetence, negligence, or willful deception continues to harm our veterans. As Leader McCarthy announced, next week the House will vote on the VA Accountability Act (H.R. 1994), which will streamline the process for removing employees for poor performance or misconduct and enhance whistleblower protections.
The House continues to demand accountability, medical access, and choice for our veterans. The Obama Administration has a moral duty to deliver.