As a veteran of the war in Iraq, I have seen the heroism and sacrifice of members of our military. Our district is rich in military families and veterans, and I believe that our country owes an enormous debt of gratitude. As a member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, I am committed to ensuring that our veterans receive the resources and benefits they need and deserve. As a member of the Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Affairs, one of my highest priorities is helping our returning veterans find jobs and transition smoothly into civilian life.
As a doctor myself, I recognize this goes beyond just incompetence. If claims are true, this is intentional malfeasance that has cost lives. Officials within the VA are failing to serve our veterans, and trying to hide it. Because of increased scrutiny from Congress, these VA administrators decided to intentionally hide poor performance.
I am also a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, which is aggressively investigating misconduct within the VA. In my first 15 months in Congress, I’ve organized meetings between fellow doctors in Congress and ranking VA health officials to bring our expertise from the private sector to help find long-term solutions. One of the largest problems we’re facing is that many of these top VA officials have no actual experience seeing patients in a hospital.
On May 8, the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee unanimously voted to subpoena the Department of Veterans Affairs to preserve any and all documents related to this accused wrong doing. Soon, the committee will receive these documents and we will have a clearer picture of the actions taken by VA officials.
Congress is also taking legislative action. I recently cosponsored the VA Management Accountability Act, H.R. 4031. This bill would give the VA Secretary authority to quickly fire senior executives. Sharon Helman, who is at the center of this secret waiting list at the Phoenix facility, is one of these senior executives. This ability is a basic tool any CEO in a private company has for team members that underperform, and we need it to bring accountability to government.
From my position on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I will continue close oversight over the VA to protect and better serve all our nation’s veterans. These men and women gave so much to serve our nation – it’s the least we can do to keep our promise to them.
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