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IAVA Calls for House Passage of VA Accountability Act

Post-9/11 veterans also urge VA budget flexibility to keep hospitals from closing

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 29, 2015) — Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) today urges members of the House to support increased VA staff accountability by passing the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller’s (R-Fla.) bipartisan VA Accountability Act of 2015 (H.R. 1994). The bill, expected to be considered by the full House today, would streamline the process for removing or demoting VA employees for poor performance or misconduct and enhance whistleblower protections.

In anticipation of today’s vote, IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff released the following statement:

“Just one year ago, Americans learned of secret VA wait lists, whistleblower retaliation and veteran patients dying while waiting to see a doctor. Despite these revelations, few VA employees have been held accountable for their negligence. Our veteran members will not feel confident in the VA until true reform has been installed at the Department, which we believe the VA Accountability Act will help achieve.

“At the same time, we believe it is unfair that every employee within the Department is painted with the broad brush of negligence. This bill will aid Secretary Bob McDonald in his efforts to instill within VA a culture of accountability, where employee pride is restored and veteran patients once again receive timely and accessible quality care.

“Holding negligent employees accountable for their actions should not be a partisan issue, and we urge parties from all sides to resist the urge to politicize efforts to provide our veterans with quality care. Veterans have made great sacrifices in service to our nation, and we expect Congress to work together to help provide the Secretary the tools necessary to accomplish our shared goal of ensuring our veterans receive the care they earned.

“At the same time, the VA needs the financial means to improve veteran access to care, finally eliminate the patient backlog and fully reform the VA. We support Secretary’s McDonald’s call to increase the VA budget through needed flexibility to keep hospitals from closing, and, in the interest of our veteran members facing urgent health care needs, we urge Congress to support the funding measure.

“We understand the reservations conveyed in the president’s veto threat issued last night, and stand ready to bring Republicans and Democrats to the table to find a way forward, just like we did for the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act, unanimously passed by Congress and signed by the president early this year.

“We are all in this together — veterans, the VA, Congress and the American people — and we must stand united until our shared objective of fully supporting our veteran patients is fully realized.”

In June 2014, IAVA called for the creation of a new “Marshall Plan for Veterans” — a bold, comprehensive effort to restore confidence in the VA. As part of that eight-point plan, IAVA called for full criminal investigations of those bad actors who ruined the reputation of the VA and harmed its veteran patients. IAVA considers the passage of VA accountability reform as the next step in protecting our veterans.

IAVA is proud to join our veteran service organization (VSO) partners, The American Legion, The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), Student Veterans of America (SVA), Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH), Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), The Reserve Officers Association (ROA) and American Veterans (AMVETS) in supporting increased VA staff accountability.

Note to media: Email press@iava.org or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff or IAVA leadership.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org) is the leading post-9/11 veteran empowerment organization (VEO) with the most diverse and rapidly growing membership in America. As a non-profit founded in 2004, IAVA’s mission is to connect, unite and empower post-9/11 veterans. Celebrating its 12th year anniversary, IAVA has connected more than 1.2 million veterans with resources and community, and provided more than 7,300 veterans with personalized support from IAVA’s Master’s level social workers.