The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has repeatedly failed to adequately serve our nation’s veterans for years. Last week, President Trump signed an executive order that can begin to change that.
The order creates a new Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection within the VA that will identify, discipline, and terminate federal bureaucrats who fail to carry out their duty of helping America’s veterans.
A lack of accountability at the VA has enabled a long string of scandals at the agency to continue. Past abuses committed by unaccountable VA employees include stealing drugs, falsifying wait times, and failing to properly sterilize medical equipment.
Earlier this year, VA Secretary David Shulkin highlighted the case of a VA employee who was caught watching pornography while working with a patient, and who could not be legally fired from his job. Instead, the employee was put on paid administrative leave. This led Secretary Shulkin to call for strong accountability measures at the VA – the first time a VA Secretary has done so – and ask Congress for greater firing authority so administrators can begin cleaning up the agency’s toxic culture.
While President Trump’s executive order is a step in the right direction, the systemic issues at the VA require decisive action from our lawmakers. The VA Accountability First Act of 2017 would reduce the amount of time VA administrators have to wait to deal with negligent employees and create additional protections for workers who come forward with instances of wrongdoing.
The House of Representatives has already passed the bill—now we have to make sure the Senate does the same. Click here to contact your Senators and urge them to support more accountability at the VA.
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