IAVA CEO: Passage of VA Bill only a ‘Band-Aid’
Washington DC (July 31, 2014) – Today, the Senate joined the House of Representatives in overwhelmingly passing the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act, the compromise legislation on reforming the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) the largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing post-9/11 veterans and their families, strongly supported the bill, praised lawmakers for moving one step closer to restoring confidence within the VA, and strongly encouraged the President to sign it into law as soon as possible.
The majority of the bill focuses on increasing access to immediate care for veterans who either live over 40 miles from a VA medical center or who must wait over 30 days for a medical appointment. The deal also includes important provisions that have been top policy goals and priorities for IAVA including the GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act, the VA Management Accountability Act, further reforms to combat military sexual trauma, and both short-term and long-term staffing and leasing authorizations to increase the VA’s capacity to serve veterans.
IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff released the following statement:
“The passage of this bill through the Senate today is not a silver bullet,” Rieckhoff said, “but rather it is only a Band-Aid, and one that will soon fall off. While there are many good elements to the bill that Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America fully support, we are nonetheless outraged that it took the VA scandal to create this kind of urgency in Washington for our veterans. IAVA maintains that we should not fall victim to the poor standards or low expectations set by the VA and Congress in this matter. Though we are both glad and relieved that an agreement is reached we believe that Congress hardly deserves praise for finally doing something they should have done a long time ago. Now that the bill has been passed we expect the President to take immediate action. We urge him to meet with IAVA leadership and implement recommendations from IAVA’s eight-point “Marshall Plan” for veterans.”