In a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives today, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) criticized the lack of significant action to reform the Veterans Administration one year after the firing of former director Shinseki and the installation of Robert McDonald to the post.
Boehner said the VA has made little progress since Shinseki resigned, despite a new law that overhauled the agency and authorized $16 billion in new spending over three years. He indicated that he is especially frustrated that so few VA officials have been fired, despite evidence that at least 110 VA facilities kept secret lists to hide long wait times.
“If only the VA did half as good a job taking care of our veterans as they do their own bureaucrats,” he said.
At Civilian Exposure, we hope Speaker Boehner is sincere in wanting to address the mess at the VA (and other agencies for that matter). Unfortunately, given the upcoming Memorial holiday, this hints of more of well-timed rhetoric than substantive concern and action.
Regardless, we welcome more anger and action from Congress to fix problems within the VA. Those problems, including the bureaucracy and mismanagement, continue to hinder progress for victims of Camp Lejeune water contamination. With lack of transparency surrounding SMEs involved in case analysis, and claim denial rates currently hovering at 95%, veterans exposed are not getting the care they deserve.
As goes the VA, so goes the DOD, the DOL and any other agency that will have to address claims at Camp Lejeune for the decades of water contamination that have caused a generational health catastrophe. We’ll continue to keep the heat on the VA, the DOD and the DOL to ensure that civilians and veterans get the awareness, accountability and assistance they deserve.
We challenge Speaker Boehner to step up and lead more direct efforts to compel the VA to do just that.
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