- A 2014 investigation into the manipulation of waitlists at 110 VA health-care facilities uncovered hundreds of thousands of veterans who were denied care while their names were held on unreported lists. Several veterans died while waiting for unscheduled appointments.
- VA leaders investigated and fired top executives and other employees involved. Unfortunately, many personnel actions were overturned by a process that allows options like quitting, retiring or transferring.
- Congress tried to help VA by passing legislation to remove obstacles that were contributing to an inability to discipline or terminate executives, managers and employees who failed to fulfill their responsibilities. However, five senior VA employees wouldn’t appear in a congressional hearing until subpoenas were issued in October, and after they were ordered to appear, two key figures in the hearing invoked the Fifth Amendment.
After wrongdoing was established, an appeals hearing before the Merit Systems Protection Board reversed executive punishments VA had attempted to impose.
At the same time, a number of other government accountability issues continue to negatively affect the lives of veterans, including:
- Veterans using the Choice Program because VA facilities are too distant or overcrowded are being personally charged medical costs from non-VA providers. Some providers are opting out of the program due to VA’s failure to correctly compensate them on time. Choice was a program that was supposed to benefit veterans lacking access to care, not punish them.
- Over $1 billion and many years of effort have gone into the development of a lifetime medical records system that truly connects DoD and VA. The project remains incomplete, slowing down the claims process and frustrating veterans of all war eras.
- Veterans suffering with PTSD and TBI – signature wounds of the war – are denied acceptance of alternative treatment programs even if they are effective.
- Federal laws, regulations and guidelines to help veterans in business and employment are not being fulfilled. Examples include less than 3 percent, as required by law, of federal contracts to service-disabled veteran-owned businesses and inconsistent compliance with Veterans Preference Hiring requirements.
Call volume to VA’s Veteran Crisis Line soared from 164,101 in 2011 to 450,940 in 2014, more than doubling the number of suicide calls that go to backup centers between 2013 and 2014, and an undisclosed number of crisis calls that go to voice mail.
For more, visit: legion.org/accountable