Improving the VA for our Veterans

Last Wednesday, I voted for H.R. 3230, the Veterans' Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act that passed the House and Senate last week. This bill takes several steps to improving the Veterans Administration (VA) helping to ensure veterans receive the treatment and benefits they earned.

Due to the backlogs at the VA it has become crucial to provide other forms of treatment so that veterans’ health issues are not delayed. If a veteran’s wait time is over 30 days or if a veteran has to travel over 40 miles to reach a VA medical facility the bill provides funding so the veteran can receive non-VA care without additional personal expense.

The bill also expands VA’s internal capacity to provide timely care to veterans. It provides $5 billion to VA to increase access to care through the hiring of physicians and other medical staff and by improving VA’s physical infrastructure.

One of the notable problems that caused increased wait times and abuse at the VA was VA executives encouraging fraud and not receiving swift repercussions and removals from their position. HR 3230 allows the Secretary of the VA to fire or demote Senior Executives that engage in poor performance or misconduct. It also provided an expedited and limited appeal process for employees disciplined under this authority.

We also found that VA employees were being incentivized with bonus when they were able to make wait times and backlogs appear smaller than they actually were. This bill will help eliminate fraud for bonuses by reducing funding for bonuses available to VA employees by $40 million each year through 2024.

This bill will also help veterans receive better education after their service. Notably it requires public colleges to provide in-state tuition to veterans and eligible dependents in order for the school to remain eligible to receive G.I. Bill education payments.

I believe that this bill will benefit many of our veterans that are rightfully upset with the VA. However, there is still a lot of work that must be done to guarantee our veterans are receiving everything they earned after dedicating years in service. I am committed to finding more ways to better ways to help our veterans.

If you are a veteran, enlisted military personnel, or a military family member I encourage you to share your thoughts about veterans’ issues with or provide me with insight about these issues at my Victoria Veterans Summit this Thursday. More information can be found here.


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