Hold Veterans Affairs officials accountable

On March 3, veteran leaders from across the state attended an annual Veterans Summit at the VA Medical Center near Elsmere hosted by U.S. Sen. Tom Carper and attended by representatives of Delaware’s federal officials. The keynote presenter was U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. David Shulkin.

Dr. Shulkin laid out 10 initiatives to improve veteran health care and VA responsiveness to veteran needs. At the top of his list was his effort to discipline and/or remove VA administrators and professionals who were not doing their jobs properly.

Three years after the patient wait time manipulation crisis at the Phoenix VA Health Care System, in addition to other scandals across the nation that put a spotlight on employee accountability, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs still lacks the proper authority to swiftly terminate workers who do not deserve to work at the VA.

Follow-up legislation passed the House of Representatives in March despite Delaware Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester’s vote against it. She has not responded to our letter of concern.

We urge Delaware’s U.S. Sens. Carper and Coons to support Senate Bill 1094, Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017. It will amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the accountability of employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs as introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio on May 11, 2017.

We trust that Sens. Carper and Coons will support this bill to improve veteran care by holding VA administrators and professionals to the same accountability that publicly operated medical facilities and hospitals have toward their patients. Our veterans deserve no less protection.

To some, it remains a matter of life and death.

David Skocik

President, Delaware
Veterans Coalition

Dover

Paul Davis

President, Delaware Council, Vietnam Veterans of America

Woodside

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