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Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America Calls for Exhaustive Oversight in Wake of Reports that Vets Homes Were Gravely Mismanaged

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 12, 2020
CONTACT: press@IAVA.org

New York, NY – Today, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America called on Congress and the VA Office of the Inspector General to look into VA oversight of state-run veterans homes – which have been hit hard by COVID-19 – in the wake of an alarming March 11 investigative news piece by ProPublica that outlined grave consequences of a reportedly-lax inspection regimen.

“In the military, we are trained to lead from the front and take responsibility in tough times,” said Jeremy Butler, CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. “We know that VA does not own this entire crisis, but the Department appears to be bending over backwards to wash its hands of this when it has a very important and clear leadership role in keeping veterans safe in state-run homes. The Secretary should lead on this grave issue now and Congress and the VA Inspector General should leave no stone unturned in its oversight of this tragedy.”

The report outlined disturbing accounts of understaffing and differences in the rigor of inspections of state-run soldiers homes between those done by the VA and those performed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The VA reportedly identifies far fewer deficiencies in care than those done by CMS. Although the VA does not directly manage the approximately 150 state-run homes that care for more than 20,000 veterans, they have the responsibility of regularly inspecting the facilities and funding care. Four of the homes have had 50 or more deaths, and 73 deaths from the coronavirus have occurred at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home in Massachusetts alone, according to the ProPublica piece. Union officials pointed to staffing shortages and mismanagement by the home as a cause of the spread of COVID-19 at the facility.

“These are strong accusations, that if true, should bring very tough consequences,” added Butler. “To care for those who have borne the battle is a paramount responsibility, and VA should be using all the tools in its toolbox to carry out that duty regardless of whether those veterans are in federal or state run facilities.”

About IAVA: Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) is the premier veterans advocacy and support organization on the planet. Every day, we fight for veterans. Hard. We are the tip-of-the spear non-profit engine of impact that connects, unites and empowers over 400,000 veterans and allies nationwide. Founded by Iraq veteran Paul Rieckhoff in 2004, IAVA is the non-partisan leader in advocacy, public awareness and 1-on-1 care-management support. We organize locally and drive historic impacts nationally.

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