President Obama signs bill to give VA resources to improve Veterans’ care

President Barack Obama signs H.R. 3230, the Veterans' Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014, at Fort Belvoir, Va., Aug. 7, 2014. The bill provides the Department of Veterans Affairs the resources to improve access and quality of care for veterans. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama signs H.R. 3230, the Veterans’ Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014, at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, Aug. 7. The bill provides the Department of Veterans Affairs the resources to improve access and quality of care for veterans. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Earlier today, President Obama traveled to Fort Belvoir, Virginia to sign a reform bill giving the Department of Veterans Affairs the necessary resources to improve access and quality of care for the men and women who have served our country in uniform.

In remarks before the bill signing, President Obama addressed the misconduct that has taken place at some VA facilities across the country — Veterans being denied the care they need, or long wait times being covered up.

“This is wrong,” the president emphasized. “It was outrageous. And working together, we set out to fix it and do right by our veterans across the board, no matter how long it took.”

We’ve already taken the first steps to change the way the VA does business. We’ve held people accountable for misconduct. Some have already been relieved of their duties, and investigations are ongoing. We’ve reached out to more than 215,000 Veterans so far to make sure that we’re getting them off wait lists and into clinics both inside and outside the VA system.

We’re moving ahead with urgent reforms, including stronger management and leadership and oversight. And we’re instituting a critical culture of accountability — rebuilding our leadership team, starting at the top with Secretary McDonald. And one of his first acts is that he’s directed all VA health care facilities to hold town halls to hear directly from the Veterans that they serve to make sure that we’re hearing honest assessments about what’s going on.

The VA reform bill — officially the Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 — passed Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support, and will expand survivor benefits and educational opportunities and improve care for victims of sexual assault and Veterans struggling with traumatic brain injuries. But the main focus of the new law is to ensure that Veterans have access to the care they’ve earned.


“You’ve risked your lives on multiple tours to defend our nation. And as a country, we have a sacred obligation to serve you as well as you’ve served us – an obligation that doesn’t end with your tour of duty.”


The president outlined three important areas the law will address:

1. Giving the VA the resources it needs:

It will help the VA hire more doctors and more nurses and staff more clinics. As a new generation of Veterans returns home from war and transitions into civilian life, we have to make sure the VA system can keep pace with that new demand. Keep in mind that I have increased funding for the VA since I came into office by extraordinary amounts. But we also have extraordinary numbers of veterans coming home. And so the demand, even though we’ve increased the VA budget, is still higher than the resources that we’ve got. This bill helps to address that.

2. Ensuring timely care:

For Veterans who can’t get timely care through the VA, this bill will help them get the care they need someplace else. And this is particularly important for Veterans who are in more remote areas, in rural areas. If you live more than 40 miles from a VA facility, or if VA doctors can’t see you within a reasonable amount of time, you’ll have the chance to see a doctor outside the VA system.

3. Holding people accountable:

We’re giving the VA secretary more authority to hold people accountable. We’ve got to give [Secretary McDonald] the authority so that he can move quickly to remove senior executives who fail to meet the standards of conduct and competence that the American people demand. If you engage in an unethical practice, if you cover up a serious problem, you should be fired. Period. It shouldn’t be that difficult. And if you blow the whistle on an unethical practice, or bring a problem to the attention of higher-ups, you should be thanked. You should be protected for doing the right thing. You shouldn’t be ignored, and you certainly shouldn’t be punished.

The president noted, however, that while this law is focused on immediate needs to reform the VA, we can’t lose sight of the long-term goals of our service members and our Veterans:

The good news is, we’ve cut the disability claims backlog by more than half. But let’s now eliminate the backlog. Let’s get rid of it. The good news is, we’ve poured major resources into improving mental health care. But now, let’s make sure our Veterans actually get the care they need when they need it. The good news is, we’ve helped to get thousands of homeless Veterans off the street, made an unprecedented effort to end Veterans’ homelessness. We should have zero tolerance for that. But we’ve got to — still more work to do in cities and towns across America to get more Veterans into the homes they deserve.

We’ve helped more than a million Veterans and their spouses and children go to college through the post-9/11 GI bill. But now, we’ve got to help even more of them earn their educations, and make sure that they’re getting a good bargain in the schools they enroll in.

We’ve rallied companies to hire hundreds of thousands of veterans and their spouses. That’s the good news.  With the help of Jill Biden and Michelle Obama — two pretty capable women…But now, we’ve got to help more of our highly skilled veterans find careers in this new economy.


“America has to do right by all who serve under our proud flag.”

Read the President’s full remarks here.

This piece was cross posted from the White House Blog.

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30 Comments to “President Obama signs bill to give VA resources to improve Veterans’ care”

  1. Paul Lazar says:

    Great news but I cannot get 5 star service since I am only allowed 3 star service. I only have 5 teeth left and cannot chew foods. I used to play adaptive sports but have given up. I am a double amputee and now have little self esteem left. I guess my service to my country is less than someone else. I am proud to have serviced my country bit my country is not proud of my service. Very sad, very sad. Why can I not get help??????

  2. mark ansley says:

    I’m a 100% disabled veteran. I changed my direct deposit. Due to error it didn’t make it to the bank. My wife is termnilly ill. We are out of food.

  3. Paul Lazar says:

    Back log???? I have been waiting over 8 years for my appeal. A C and P doctor say I could get a job. Vocation Rehab said I was unemployable. The VA sided on the side of the C and P doctor which makes no sense. Do it to you???. People move around numbers to make them look good. Now the VA just turns down your claim so you have to wait 8 to 10 years. I hope I am alive long enough to get my justice I deserve. So how is the back log for appeals going NOW

    • dan watson says:

      The Voc. Rehab are not so much Medical Dr’s used for rating purposes as they are to assist with going back to school and training. Even if you are disabled by social security you still have to prove disability through VA and visa-verse. Just the way its set up, Just as a private Dr can’t do ratings for the VA, only their ratings Drs can do so. Trust me I’ve been through it as well

  4. Milan B. Lemmon says:

    I hope this not propaganda they shoveing down our throats. I hope that this bill will improve the VA system for our veterans. It is a shame that all this crap has happened.

    • Paul Lazar says:

      Been in the system 40 years and things have only gotten worse. In the private sector you are over worked and under payed. Government workers are over paid ed and under worked. Sad for older veterans.

  5. Spec 5 67-73 says:

    I hope that with this new act vets that are not 100% SC are able to get some dental care. I have very little resources and I would love to be able to chew a hamburger. With all the money being thrown at our frienimies(countries that hate us) it seems to me that our country could take care of the only ones that raised our right hands and said yes “I am willing to lay down my life should my country ask me to” in order to protect the majority of people(99% of congress and senate look in the mirror) that ran the other way and hid…………….there are some of us vets that can’t afford VA dental insurance premiums. Cut out a few million food stamp abusers or cut out some of the countries like Brazil,Egypt,Pakistan, Pakistan ?? Korea, Korea??,Germany, Germany…….you get my drift. Damn shame we can’t get some dental help. I can’t make the town hall meeting but I hope some of you will bring up the subject if you will. I won’t hold my breath. All the same.

  6. Robert Lewis says:

    Boy o boy now they can give themselves more bonuses.

  7. Bill Tuey says:

    The push to see new veterans has delayed appointments up to 18 months for veterans already in the system. One close friend was told to go home and prepare to die, they will not be able to repair an aneurism because they don’t have the resources. This is only shuffling people around and not addressing the problem of lack of doctors and medical personnel. I hope our Commander in Chief addresses this major problem immediately, so many lives are at stake.

  8. Brian S says:

    Good afternoon Secretary McDonald,
    -
    I am writing to express my interest in helping the VA reduce costs and improve it’s operations during a difficult time. I am a 100% disabled veteran in Phoenix with personal experience in both the local and national VA healthcare system.
    -
    Recently, I graduated from a major MBA program (with help from the Post-9/11 GI Bill) and I am starting a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business that offers consulting services in process improvement and strategic planning. I believe that I can help the Phoenix VA Healthcare System reduce costs and improve it’s overall efficiency at a much smaller expense than any major consulting firm. Being a patient myself, I will also be able to work better alongside both staff members and other patients with a heartfelt understanding.
    -
    The path to finding VA contracting or subcontracting opportunities online or by phone is very difficult to navigate. Major consulting firms have an enormous advantage over small businesses like me. I know that I can help you if I can find an opportunity to demonstrate my skills, education, and experience. Can you or your staff set aside time to speak with me?
    -
    Congratulations on your new post. I wish you the very best Sir.
    -
    Sincerely,
    -
    LTJG Brian S (USN ret.)

  9. Dear Mr. President,
    Unfortunately, your words do not match your actions. The VA is at it worst, and this is all by design. Shame on you and yours for participating in this fraud against all of us veterans.
    You have simply injected more $$$ into the VA system, which will abuse and misuse it, mismanage and misspend it.
    If the powers that be really wanted a prosperous, safe and secure VA for all American veterans, it would clean up the VA from the bottom up, and not simply throw more money at a poorly functioning system.
    RLTW,
    Jon Macintosh
    author of the new book VA Disability Claim

  10. More propaganda! I can’t even get the VA to agree that I am married, I submitted my marriage certificate showing I’ve been married for 42 years and the VA tells me it won’t be until 2015 before they will make (if ever) the necessary changes! Forget that I’ve been waiting for my retro monies since last month. The e-benifits website is a joke, it tells you absolutely nothing and should be abolished and their 800 number is also of no use as the representatives have no useful information to relay to you…ever! The VA should be ashamed of themselves!

  11. Troy says:

    Well it is now law but once again talk is cheap lets see what really happens now,Some of these directors they have in these VA facilities needed to be fired out right.I have been going to the Orlando VA facility since 2006,and to this day I do not have a clue as to what the director of this place looks like if he/she is black or white.
    They stay in there ivory towers getting bonuses some of them know damn well they do not deserve like the director in Atlanta, and Las Vegas these are three prime examples.
    I guess they feel they are to damn good to come down off there clouds and see how us little people are doing,and what makes me even more hateful of these directors is when they are veterans themselves that really gets under my skin to no end.

  12. Very out standing that was the best Bill you could have signed during your presidency, a good deed covers a multitude of sins! God bless you Mr. PRESIDENT! Sincerely, Adonis!

  13. I think that this is the best thing that you have done since the beginning of your presidency; keep up the GOod work, for a GOod deed covers a multitude of sins!

  14. Spec 5 67-73 says:

    I too have never seen the director out on the floor, at least gladhanding the troops. While we’re at it throw in a few patient advocates/reps. some of these people never leave their offices at least not in the two years that I’ve been in the system. Wonder what they do all day?

  15. Paul Lazar says:

    The people on Obama Staff do not care about us or what we have to say. Does everyone understand that Obama made the VA choose between pretty and post 911 vets and what healthcare we would receive. Again the older vets get the shaft. Just like wounded warriors. The general public does not know that this program is only for the post 911 vets. Again us who serviced our country are put in the back of the bus. No one is going to help us as they DON’T CARE! So very sad. 5 star healthcare my ass.

  16. chris says:

    What are they gonna do to eliminate the backlog of appeals of disability claims

  17. When will we get free Dental for all Honorable Discharge Veteran

  18. I’m a 100% disabled veteran. I changed my direct deposit. Due to error it didn’t make it to the bank.

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  21. Scott Edwards says:

    Well I learned yesterday that you don’t actually get appointments with the VA doctors! Well except for your annual appointment. The rest of the time you need to see your primary doctor you speak to a Triage phone number or you can go and sign in at local clinic and take the chance that you will be seen, first come first served basis. Oh, then it only gets worse from here, if you have an emergency you must go to the local VA hospital which in my case is over 2 hours away. So if I get knocked out by a horse again, take the 2 hour drive. Or if I can’t walk because of the pain in my back and need an injection to take away the pain, take the 2 hour drive. I asked about if I was having a heart attack, they said you can go to local ER and they will sort it out later or take the 2 hour drive to nearest VA hospital. Hey don’t get me wrong, something is better than nothing and my do for at the local clinic has been great, but you don’t see him except on your annual appointment. All other times you call the Triage.
    So, will this law that was just passed help us Veterans on a daily basis or just get rid of the backlog to see the doctor on your annual visit?
    This is a dramatic change and a 2 hour drive to the nearest VA hospital could be life of death? And then again if you decide to go to local hospital you run the risk of being bankrupt from charges because you don’t have insurance! HELP!!

  22. Mark Ussery says:

    Sadly to say I am service connected 0% and have been for a long time although I suffer from many illnesses that I feel are directly related to my time in the service. Fortunately for me I was able to get some help from Social Security Disability and have been rated 100% Disabled and Unemployable. Earlier this month the local Va I regularly visit out of necessity decided to garnishment my SSD payment for about 14%of my monthly income. After much hassle and numerous time on the phone and in person with different people it was discovered that they should not have even charged me for the medication to begin with and I was due a refund. Today I was told that they have not recieved payment yet from the agency they have hired to do the collecting and it will be 4 to 6 weeks before they can do so. then if I am due a refund they said I can submit a claim. To top it all off my primary care doctor is no longer employed with the VA any more and it has been over a month and I have yet to be reassigned a new doctor. So I must use the emergency room service to see what ever doctor is on at the time and spend 30 mins to an hour each time explaining to that doctor what all is wrong with me and what I think I need. Thank god for my healthy vet website but for some reason mine is no longer updating. I am without a clue now for sure what to do. Hopefully Obamas new regulations will allow me to see a private physician soon.

  23. Dafiti says:

    Great. I have been waiting over 5 years.

  24. Dafiti says:

    Great job!!!

  25. dan watson says:

    My question is this, they say now if we can’t be seen in a reasonable amount of time we can go to a private DR. What is a reasonable amount of time?? How does a veteran get approval to go see another DR as I know most of the time VA won’t pay them. I am a 100% disabled Veteran who had a heart attack a coupla years ago at Ft Campbell and the VA wouldn’t the pay the military installation For my medical because they said they couldn’t pay another gov’t agency so I had to pay it all myself. Tell me that’s not screwed up.