A big win for America's veterans
President Trump signed a law Friday that makes it easier for the Department of Veterans Affairs to fire employees for wrongdoing and adds protections for whistleblowers in the VA.
Responding to an Obama-era scandal in which veterans died waiting for doctor’s appointments, Mr. Trump said the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 will “make sure that the scandal we suffered so recently never, ever happens again.”
“What happened was a national disgrace, and yet some of the employees involved remained on the payrolls,” Mr. Trump said. “Our veterans have fulfilled their duty to this nation, and now we must fulfill our duty to them.”
The president signed the bill into law in the East Room, at a White House ceremony attended by dozens of veterans, family members and lawmakers.
This new law may not solve all of the problems our veterans face, but it will make it easier to hold bureaucrats accountable and responsible for providing inadequate care to our veterans in need.
The VFW's national commander, Brian Duffy, said:
“Three years ago, a nationwide crisis in access to care and confidence engulfed the entire VA,” said Duffy. “Today’s signing will not instantly fix an employee culture of indifference to appointed leadership that took years — if not decades — to fester, but it does send a very loud and unmistakable signal to all employees that maintaining the status quo no longer works for those who have borne the battle,” he said. “Let the healing begin.”
In its press release transcript, the President said of the new law:
VA accountability is essential to making sure that our veterans are treated with the respect they have so richly earned through their blood, sweat and tears. This law will finally give the VA Secretary -- who is, by the way, just doing some job, and he’s doing it with this and with the heart. (Applause.)
It gives the Secretary the authority to remove federal employees who fail and endanger our veterans -- and to do so quickly and effectively. It's been a long time since you’ve heard those words. Those entrusted with the sacred duty of serving our veterans will be held accountable for the care they provide. It's a big statement.
At the same time, this bill protects whistleblowers who do the right thing. We want to reward, cherish, and promote the many dedicated employees at the VA. This legislation also gives the VA Secretary the authority to appoint new medical directors at VA hospitals -- something which was almost impossible to do in the past. And these are going to be talented, talented people.
Many of you may have seen emails from The Coalition to Salute America's Heroes coming from us. The Coalition is a non-profit charity that helps veterans and their families as they wait for VA benefits to kick in. This is a part of our system that truly fails to support veterans when they need it most.
But The Coalition is there. And with the support of private citizens, The Coalition is able to help close that gap, and ensure veterans most in need of financial help are able to get it.
The Response Action Network is part of a company that helps organizations like The Coalition to Salute America's Heroes raise the funds they need to carry out their critical mission. It's partnering with organizations like The Coalition that makes everything we do worthwhile -- knowing that we are helping organizations get their message out to the American people, and giving them the ability to continue to serve, educate, advocate, and defend the ideas and people that keep America free.
You can find out more about The Coalition here.