Speaking today at the American Legion's 2014 National Convention, President Obama announced nineteen steps he is taking through executive orders to address the ongoing scandal in the Department of Veterans Affairs. Unfortunately, nothing was mentioned about the claims or appeals process. (CLICK for complete speech)
Yesterday, the VA itself released an Inspector General report which indicates no deaths can be positively attributed to the delays in patient care in Phoenix, despite whistle-blower allegations.
Among the key points in the President's orders are:
• A new recruiting campaign to fill shortages of doctors and nurses at VA hospitals.
• Automatically enrolling military personnel receiving mental health care into mental health treatment programs by the VA.
• A partnership with five national banks to help veterans get lower rate mortgages easier.
• New efforts to better understand traumatic brain injuries, including a $34.4 million VA suicide prevention study involving 1800 veterans at 29 VA hospitals, and more suicide prevention training for military and VA personnel.
• Automatic enrollment of separating service personnel in transition programs.
In recent weeks the VA has also trumpeted grants for homeless veterans throughout the country, dedicating millions towards this serious need.
The VA scandal erupted in April when a retired doctor at the VA hospital in Phoenix disclosed that long wait times may have contributed to the deaths of as many as 40 veterans. A preliminary investigation found that delays and falsified records were widespread through the VA system.
The President assured the Legionnaires, "We are going to fix what is wrong. We are going to do right by you and your families, and that is a solid pledge and commitment I’m making to you here.”
The American Legion has long been a supporter of C-123 veterans' Agent Orange exposure claims, for which we continue to express our gratitude.