New Veterans Affairs Chief Robert McDonald has announced sweeping reforms to his troubled agency. The announcement comes one day before Veterans Day.
McDonald explained in a CBS “60 minutes interview” Sunday that at least 35 people will initially be fired, and at least 1,000 employees could follow.
The VA is the second largest government agency with 330,000 employees overseeing 9 million patients.
He has inspected 41 VA facilities in 4 months on the job.
This comes in response to a CNN investigation in November of 2013 that “military veterans were dying needlessly because of long waits and delayed care at US Veterans hospitals.” Even worse, they reported that the VA knew about these problems and did nothing to fix them. Many VA employees allegedly covered up problems as well.
President Obama stated on the issue that “it is dishonorable, it is disgraceful, and I will not tolerate it, period.”
Chief McDonald has used his tenure to attract medical students at schools to join and improve the work environment. His goal is to hire 28,000 workers to fill vacant clinical staff positions and 2,500 mental health professionals.
Other reforms include restructuring health care services and consolidating management for veterans. The primary reform issue is fixing the waiting period to see a doctor.
“Its gonna take time,” says McDonald.
Republicans have been very skeptical, vowing tougher oversight and possible shrinking of the agency by giving more work to private doctors.
McDonald urges that would put veterans in the hands of people unfamiliar with their issues.