Putting American Veterans First

‘We Cannot Break Faith With The Americans Who Bravely And Willingly Fight On Our Behalf’

SEN. MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “…Americans across the nation are counting on us to help ensure better quality health care for our veterans. This is a critical issue for each of us, no matter what state we hail from, no matter what party we represent. Our veterans have sacrificed so much, and in return, they deserve our support. We must keep the commitment we have to them when it comes to ensuring the VA is providing the quality health care they rely on. … Already, Congress has taken a number of steps to improve these facilities for our veterans and to keep the faith with those who have willingly and courageously fought on our behalf. Now, we can build on those efforts by passing the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act.” (Sen. McConnell, Floor Remarks, 6/6/2017)

  • S.1094 - Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act (Isakson / Rubio / Tester): “The legislation also includes a number of other provisions to hold employees accountable, including: Requires the VA to evaluate supervisors based on the protection of whistleblowers; Incentivizes managers to address poor performance and misconduct among employees by requiring the VA secretary to include this as part of the annual performance plan; Prohibits bonuses for employees who have been found guilty of wrongdoing; and Prohibits relocation expenses to employees who abuse the system.” (Committee On Veterans Affairs, Press Release, 5/11/2017)

‘With The Enactment Of The Veterans Choice Program… There Were 2.1 Million More Veterans’ Appointments In The VA In 2016 Than The Previous Year’

SEN. MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “We have an all-volunteer force, and we cannot break faith with the Americans who bravely and willingly fight on our behalf. (Sen. McConnell, Floor Remarks, 5/25/2017)

SENS. ISAKSON (R-GA) & TESTER (D-MT): “With the enactment of the Veterans Choice Program, designed to provide veterans with more timely appointment options, there were 2.1 million more veterans’ appointments in the VA in 2016 than the previous year. Last month, President Trump signed into law the Veterans Choice Program Improvement Act, legislation that we introduced to ensure veterans would continue to have access to timely care in their own communities while setting the stage for further reforms to the program.” (“Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Leaders On The Way Forward To Improve Veteran Care,” Military Times, 5/29/2017)

  • S.544 - A bill to amend the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014…: “President Donald Trump on Wednesday … signed a law extending the pilot ‘Veterans Choice’ program, which allows some veterans to receive healthcare from local doctors and hospitals closer to their homes than the VA's 150 hospitals and nearly 1,000 outpatient clinics. The law eases procedures for reimbursing private providers and creates a system for sharing medical records with them.” (“Trump Extends Program Allowing Some Veterans To Use Local Doctors, Hospitals,” Reuters, 4/29/2017)

Additional Veterans Bills That Have Passed The Senate:

  • S.114 - Department of Veterans Affairs Bonus Transparency Act (Heller / Casey): “The Department of Veterans Affairs Bonus Transparency Act requires the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to annually report on the bonuses awarded to critical positions within the VA, including VA Regional Office (VARO) directors, VA hospital directors, and Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) directors.” (Sen. Heller, Press Release, 5/26/2017)
  • S.12 - Increasing the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability to Veterans Act (Moran / Bennet / Blumenthal): “Holding VA leaders accountable for department mismanagement, hiring well-qualified people, and addressing employee performance;     Preventing employee conflicts of interest; and Improving manager training.” (Sen. Moran, Press Release, 1/10/2017)
  • S.585 - Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 (Johnson / Ernst): “The bill is named for Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick, a whistleblower from the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Tomah, Wis., who took his own life after being fired for questioning excessive prescription practices at the facility. ... This bill implements a number of suggestions he made at the hearing to improve whistleblower protections at the VA and across the federal government. The legislation will strengthen penalties for those who retaliate against whistleblowers, add protections for probationary period employees, and ensure federal employees have a greater knowledge of whistleblower protections.” (Sens. Johnson & Ernst, Press Release, 5/25/2017)

Building On The Work Accomplished For Veterans Last Congress

VETERANS CHOICE ACT: “What is the Veterans Choice Act? This federal program sets aside $10 billion throughout three years for veterans who live more than 40 miles from a VA facility or who find themselves waiting more than 30 days for an appointment. The program allows them to be seen at a participating community health center.” (“VA Opens More Doors To Rural Veterans In Virginia,” Daily Press, 12/7/15)

HOLDING THE VA ACCOUNTABLE: “A sweeping independent review of the Department of Veterans Affairs health-care system made public Friday shows the multibillion-dollar agency has significant flaws, including a bloated bureaucracy, problems with leadership and a potentially unsustainable capital budget. … The assessments, weighing in at more than 4,000 pages total, were mandated by the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act, commonly known as the Veterans Choice Act, a more than $16 billion emergency funding measure passed last summer in the wake of a systemwide scandal at the VA.” (“A Needs ‘Systemwide Reworking,’ Independent Report Finds,” The Wall Street Journal, 9/18/15)

CLAY HUNT SUICIDE PREVENTION FOR AMERICAN VETERANS ACT: “The bill requires independent reviews of VA and Department of Defense programs aimed at preventing suicide, creates peer support and community outreach pilot programs, and forms a program to repay loan debt for psychiatry students to incentivize them to work in the VA health system. It also creates a website to provide veterans with information about mental health services and allows the VA to collaborate with nonprofit mental health organizations on suicide prevention.” (“Obama Signs Suicide Prevention Bill To Aid Veterans,” U.S. News, 2/12/15)


Related Issues: National Security, America's Military, Middle Class, Veterans