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Statement: VA Needs Financial Flexibility to Fix System

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 25, 2015) — In response to VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson’s testimony today before the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, during which he requested additional funding and flexibility for the department, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) Policy Chief Matt Miller released the following statement:

“Yankee great Yogi Berra was famous for saying, ‘Its deja vu all over again.’ Little did he know his statement could apply to VA budget challenges this year.

“Six months ago, Secretary McDonald went before the Veterans’ Affairs Committee to ask for the financial flexibility needed to improve veteran access to care, continue his efforts to eliminate the patient backlog, and reform the VA. Today, Deputy Secretary of Veteran Affairs Sloan Gibson again made that same request. In the interest of our members facing urgent healthcare needs nationwide, it must be granted.

“Members of Congress cannot have it both ways. They can’t demand that VA be reformed without providing the flexibility and finances to VA leadership necessary to accomplish those tasks.

“Past VA Secretaries have managed the department to their budget. Secretary McDonald must be trusted to do the same. IAVA continues to trust him and Deputy Secretary Gibson, and Congress must do the same. Congress should also resist the urge to politicize the VA issues and must provide the Secretary with the tools he needs to accomplish the shared goal of improving the service VA provides its veteran patients.

However, the VA must improve its proactivity to future needs and transparency about the real scope of its problems. We’ve seen that veteran health care demands can be extremely dynamic, expensive and unpredictable. Our members want VA to be candid around future costs, and submit budget requests that better reflect proactive planning. We’re all in this together and we must remain united until the shared objective is reached. That is what our vets deserve.”

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