Walker Votes to Reform Department of Veterans Affairs, Hold Federal Bureaucrats Accountable to US Veterans
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Mark Walker (R-N.C.) today voted to reform the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) to better serve our veterans, to hold those responsible for the misconduct accountable, and to protect whistleblowers with S. 1094 - the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act – which passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 368 to 55.
“From the beaches of Normandy to the foothills of North Carolina, our veterans have valiantly served our nation and our community," Walker said. "They deserve better than to die on secret VA waiting lists, anticipating the care they were promised when they put their country before themselves. The Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act will reform the VA to better serve our heroes and hold federal bureaucrats accountable for their unacceptable failures in caring for our nation’s veterans. As this bill goes to the President’s desk, another important promise is kept.”
This legislation, having already passed the Senate, now heads to the President's desk to be signed into law.
In 2014, the country was horrified as news reports came out of the Phoenix VA – and then others across the country – detailing veterans dying on secret VA waiting lists. Records were hidden, cover ups occurred, and federal employees put themselves over the lives of veterans. This was unacceptable and we can't let it happen again. The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act will allow us to change course and bring accountability and better care to the VA – the care our heroes deserve.
There are more than 750,000 veterans living in North Carolina, making up about ten percent of the adult population. Guilford County has the fourth highest veteran population in the state with more than 32,000. Constituents of North Carolina's Sixth Congressional District generally use one of three local VA medical centers in Durham, Fayetteville, or Salisbury.
The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act is supported by the following veterans organizations:
The American Legion
“This legislation, as currently written, will provide the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs the authorities to improve accountability and raise employee performance and morale. We are impressed by the speed by which Congress acted to move this critical legislation forward to the President’s desk in a bipartisan manner. We look forward to this bill becoming law.” –Charles E. Schmidt, National Commander
Concerned Veterans for America
“For years a toxic culture has plagued the Department of Veterans Affairs, but the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act will be a meaningful step toward turning the troubled department around. Finally, Secretary Shulkin will be empowered with the authority to quickly remove those who under-perform, neglect patients, or even engage in criminal activity. We believe this historic piece of legislation will help usher in a new era of integrity and accountability at the department entrusted with caring for our heroes. We thank Chairman Roe, Senator Rubio, and concerned citizens across the country who pushed relentlessly to generate support from both sides of the aisle and make this reform a reality.” –Dan Caldwell, Policy Director
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
“Given that the scandal in Phoenix alerted the country to the outrageous state of the VA health care system nearly three years ago, this change is long overdue. IAVA applauds the leadership of Majority Leader McCarthy and Chairman Roe to hold a House vote on the Senate-passed bill that will empower the VA to remove bad-acting employees. IAVA and our members have fought relentlessly to give the VA Secretary the tools needed to address workforce accountability and save veterans’ lives, and we are extremely pleased that final passage into law is within reach.” –IAVA Founder and CEO Paul Rieckhoff
Paralyzed Veterans of America
“No other large healthcare system rivals VA's competence to deliver specialized services at a national level, such as spinal cord injury and disease and polytrauma care, or synthesizes access to healthcare, benefits, support, and peer mentorship better than VA. But what VA needs most right now is the one 'ability' it presently lacks and can no longer be taken for granted — accountability. Whether that means better protecting whistleblowers, shortening the reprimand process, or recouping ill-gotten bonuses and relocation expenses, achieving a state of being answerable to the public, the Congress, and most importantly, veterans, will be dictated by the worst behavior the VA Secretary has to tolerate. This bill will be a major step toward having to tolerate such behavior no more." –Sherman Gillums, Executive Director
Veterans of Foreign Wars
“The VFW wants Secretary Shulkin to have the authority to manage his people in a manner expected of all senior executives, public or private. The VFW wants the secretary to weed out the nonperformers and those whose personal conduct brings doubt and dishonor upon thousands of dedicated employees. And the VFW wants this bill passed into law, because maintaining the status quo doesn’t work for those who have borne the battle.” –VFW National Commander Brian Duffy
Vietnam Veterans of America
“Vietnam Veterans of America has been advocating strongly for much greater accountability from VA management since our founding in 1978. We have done so in public statements and countless testimonies on Capitol Hill. This statute is a real milestone in that journey; a journey that at times seemed to be a very lonely effort. We are gratified to see this day.” –John Rowan, VVA National President