The head of Veteran Affairs recently assessed the “chronic problems” dealing with U.S. vets, consisting of barriers to quality healthcare, widespread drug addiction and a staggering 1,500 disciplinary actions brought against the federal workers charged with ensuring their well-being.
“The only way to fix the issues is to come out and talk about what those problems are,” VA Secretary David Shulkin said.
“There is still a lot of work to do.”
Shulkin made the unusual, on-camera statement in the White House briefing room as calls for more openness at the beleaguered firm grows.
The Associated Press reported that the government will open lots of new investigations into drug and opioid thefts from veterans’ care facilities by employees.
Currently, veterans can get “same-day” services at medical centers, but are still waiting too long for brand-new appointments– more than 60 days on average– at about 30 areas nationwide. Numerous medical care centers are understaffed or running out of space.
Appeals of disability claims remain unresolved for many years. Inventory systems at a number of Veteran Affairs (VA) facilities are woefully out of date, and worker responsibility is “clearly broken,” Shulkin stated.
“Our veterans and their households have actually taken advantage of our early success, but have suffered due to the failures of the past to result genuine change,” Shulkin said.
The news, and the open approach, lead to believe that this is the beginning of more open and honest rapport with the flailing VA.
Longer than reasonable wait times for appointments is on top of the list of complaints that veterans have with their designated health care provider association. Drug and opioid thefts rank high in complaints too. If the pain medications are not available, veterans can be forced to go without much needed care, or seek the medications elsewhere.
The VA has pledged to take the discipline actions seriously and work to change the organization for the better of all veterans.