The reforms outlined by VA Secretary Shulkin today in his State of the VA address today at the White House are largely no news to IAVA members and we remain eager to see concrete details about plans to reduce redundancies, find efficiencies and identify cost savings. We are pleased to hear how the Secretary continues to prioritize our nation’s veteran suicide epidemic and indicated that leading VSOs like IAVA will be counseled regarding reform initiatives.
IAVA’s Policy Agenda outlines our clear recommendations for full VA reform, to reform for hiring and firing VA employees. We hope the Secretary takes our lead to create a VA that puts veterans first and is fit for the 21st Century.
It was disappointing to see so little focus on women veterans today. Not only absent in the Secretary’s remarks, but largely overlooked in his plan, were the disparity in services and cultural issues women face at the VA. Women are the fastest growing segment of the veterans population, and more than 345,000 women have deployed since 9/11. Women veterans must begin to be a stated priority of this Administration.
IAVA also continues to be concerned about the persistent focus on VA’s still unproven “Choice” program. IAVA members have given “Choice” very mixed reviews, with only 37% of those using the program rating it as above average/excellent, 34% rating it as average and a concerning 28% rated it as below average/poor. And, we stand with our VSO partners in opposition to any attempts to privatize the VA.