‘Keeping our promises to those who have kept us free’: President signs VA accountability act


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With the stroke of a pen, President Trump made what he called one of “the largest reforms to the VA in its history” today with the signing of the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017.

“Today we are taking a very historic action,” the president said. “This law will finally give the VA secretary the authority to remove federal employees who fail and endanger our Veterans — and to do so quickly and effectively.”

“In just a short time we’ve already achieved transformative change at the VA and, we’re just getting started,” Trump added.

Secretary Shulkin with Army Veteran Michael Verardo and Michael’s wife, Sarah.

VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin also spoke at the event, and introduced Army Veteran Michael Verardo and his wife Sarah. A sergeant with the 82nd Airborne, Verardo was injured by an IED explosion in Afghanistan in 2010 and has had more than 100 surgeries and countless hours of therapy.  After experiencing issues with timely appointments at VA, Verardo met with Shulkin earlier this year and urged reform.

“Today is a new day and this administration has fulfilled its promise to put a Veteran in charge of his own care,” Verardo told those gathered for the bill signing. “Thank you for ensuring that we are not forgotten and that we will receive the care that we deserve.”

“The president and I are committed to fixing the VA,” Secretary Shulkin explained. “Veterans deserve an organization they can trust.”

Earlier Friday, Shulkin spoke at an event hosted by the Bush Institute and explained what the new law enables VA to do.

“I’m grateful to Congress and the president for moving forward with this,” Shulkin told the morning audience. “There is bipartisan support to help us fix issues that have been broken for a long time.”

“I believe that to be able to move people out who have lost their way is part of the solution to be able to fix VA. It’s good news for Veterans, their families. It’s good news for our employees,” Shulkin said.

Watch the signing ceremony event below. Coverage starts at the 43:26 mark.

Author

Megan Moloney

-- Megan joined VA in May 2013. She is the daughter, granddaughter and spouse of Army and Navy Veterans who served in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Comments

  1. Lisa Denise Hauser    

    Nice article. But Trump care will take our healthcare away and many job loses. He doesn’t care for us veterans.

      1. Gary Hicks    

        Mr. Farrell,

        You are more than welcome to debate Ms. Hauser on the merits of her comments or state your position — political or otherwise.

      2. GAG    

        Your speculating.

      3. WOGR    

        How do you know these facts.

      4. James Michael Brauer    

        I dont care about jobs.I vare about health care foe us veterans.

        I want to know why to this TRUE situation.

        In my state of Texas I am Rated at 100% and receive care for my service connected problems AND medication for my non service connected heart problems, diabetes problems, depression problems.

        I am taking an extended vacation in the phillipines. The Philippines is THE ONLY foreign country to have a VA Medical facility at the embassy.

        HOWEVER, in the Philippines I am NOT A VALUED VETERAN. There is a law on the books that says I can ONLY RECEIVE care and medication for my service connected problems.

        Even though I am rated at 100 percent disabled, I am not treated as a disabled vet in the Philippines. I receice NO MEDICATION FOR MY HEART PROBLEMS, MY DEPRESSION OE MY DIABETES.

        Why are we no longer valued veterans while in the Philippines?

      5. warren wheeler crowell    

        As a veteran; I have found that the Veteran’s Administration has only become a total mess since the politicians have put their opinions and policies in the mix of it! Here, in Madison, Wisconsin, we have a Vets Hospital which I believe should be the “Model” across the board for VA hospitals. I have never been turned away, held up due to over scheduling, or any of the other “complaints” that I’ve heard about the VA hospitals and clinics. With the increase of guys and gals returning home after being blown apart in these senseless conflicts which only benefit the wealthy, the Middleton Memorial Veteran’s Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin stands above all in its’ services. If the politicians leave the VA to those whom know exactly what our War-torn Veterans need; the Administration can function properly, efficiently, and appropriately for Veterans.

    1. Lee Larko    

      Too bad you will comment on this reform with a political snipe, of which you are wrong. This bill is not right for the country but you fail to read the bill for yourself, but rather depend on the Media and Politicians to feed you. The bill in its current form does not remove ANYONE from the rolls, rather it will not expand Medicare and by 2020 will stop Cost Sharing Reduction Subsidies (CSR). These CSRs are payments to the INSURANCE companies, not individuals, since when should insurance companies receive any form of Government assistance? The best plan for this Country is the Free market system, good old Capitalism. Let every Insurance provider pitch their product to you and you decide what is best for you, not the Government. Competition will drive the market not a politician that has been excluded from the plan that they put upon the American People.

    2. Peter Serrano    

      Has anyone writing this article read the law? Are you kidding us? It say’s that when a veteran that is on unworkability disability included with all the other percentages of disability, once reaching the age of 65 he or she will lose their monetary parts of their benefits. They will be only covered by their Social Security. So Lets say you have been disabled for many years. You did not have Social Security taxes taken out do to VA benefits are not taxed. So now you only can get the minimum of maybe $1,000 a month. The veteran according to this bill, will now lose 3/4 of their monthly income . We will lose our homes and security and health due to this bill. Why is the Veterans administration letting this happen? This is a bad law for veterans. Their are good parts in the law but this part is devastating to our veterans.

      1. David Brooks    

        Peter I read the entire act and I see nothing what so ever to do with Veterans disability. It pertains only to VA employees unless you are discussing another topic other than Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017.

      2. Dohm Jellison    

        Mr Serrano, could you point me to exactly where you read that. I cannot find it after going through this twice. I am not trying to offend you, but actually concerned about what you have said. Thank you!

    3. Dohm Jellison    

      I do not think, Ms. Hauser, you are up to date with your facts. I can tell you for a fact, that three doctors, and a Rehab facility dropped me two years ago, because the insurance company refused to fully pay their rates. This after almost 7 years of being a patient of them. I have had 8 back surgeries, and a spine/nerve implant done due to a accident. When it came time to replace the batteries in the implant, again it was denied by the insurance company. I was extremely lucky, that the VA stepped up to do the surgery for the battery replacement, and during this time, was found that I needed a Peripheral Artery bypass. Which was done without hesitation as again the insurance company was refusing to ok it. As it stands, the insurance company is being charged for the work done by the VA. Having more competition, will eliminate this monopoly that holds us hostage by the insurance companies, and provides proper payment to the doctors, that we ourselves choose to go to. I will have to confess, I am a fully disabled Veteran, and have been in the VA health system for almost 4 decades. But that doesn’t give the insurance companies the right, to force us to get medical attention from the VA, and have the tax payers foot the bill. I hope that these facts, truly enlightens your understanding of what I have been through the last 8 years. If it wasn’t for the VA, I do not know what I would have done. Thank you!

  2. A V Bell    

    I disagree by the end of the year if a veteran has a issue and VA is backed up you will be able to go to any private doctors and VA will pay for it and as far as jobs we have thousands of jobs getting ready to open up because President Trump has talked to companies overseas that is bringing jobs back to the USA some of the biggest Asian companies just announced they would be bringing 25,000 jobs to south central United States it’s being talked about by our mayor and 3 car plants are opening back up here and A lot of the coal mining companies are reopening

    1. John Stief    

      I would like to know the names of those “biggest Asian companies” that are bringing jobs back. In addition, the only coal mines that have opened are mines that produce a special kind of coal used in steel manufacturing. Two (2) mines did reopen to sell to China.

    2. Carol Roth    

      Agree, 100%. I think President Trump is the best thing to happen to the U.S. in a long time. He does not get the support but keeps going on to help our country. Military and their spouses (I am one) should be celebrating that he is in office.

      1. Ssgt Bob    

        Celebrating?? How by doing hallucinogenics? What planet are you from?

    3. Rod LeSane    

      BOY you really are dumb & clueless if you think that Orange Idiot gives a Rats Ass about us Vets!
      He Does Not Care!! If yoy belice that i habe a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you

      1. joe    

        I agree Obama was totaly against coal

    4. warren wheeler crowell    

      AV Bell, If you believe that; then that’s your belief. But the problem is that WE, Americans, should be manufacturing and selling! Not waiting for foreign countries to bring us jobs.

  3. Richard Farrens    

    I am totally against President Trump involvement with trying to make changes with the VA. I do not trust him as a leader and the changes to healthcare for all Americans, to give those funds as tax breaks for the rich. I did not go to war to be treated like this. I am a Vietnam Veteran who was treated badly for many years. Not again! I would like him to leave his hands off the VA. Period!!!!!

    1. Josey    

      I agree he can not be trusted I’m sure anything he touches will most likely have an adverse effect somewhere to the less fortunate and benefit the ones who need it less. Anything he dose is always in a quick drastic approach with no regard to effect.

      1. William Carrell    

        Well who can be trusted most all government and its employees are a bunch of liars and being a veteran myself and after 52 years of going to the VA I have no use for them either but what damn choice do I have and anything is better than what we have now. In 1967 I had a psychiatrist tell me kid if you don’t shut your mouth I will write down that your mental case and you will never work again. In 2017 I had had a psychiatrist tell me what happened yesterday stayed yesterday what happens today and move on with life pretty much saying the same thing and now it’s time to move on and get rid of that damn psychiatry . If they have not a military background and they shouldn’t be there and the only reason I say that is because they do not understand the pain that a war veteran has gone through.

    2. warren wheeler crowell    

      Although there have been some presidents whom haven’t been to war; I think Presidents should really consult their Chiefs of Staff before deciding on wartime and veteran’s issues.

  4. Mj storey    

    So far I have seen no change in Dorn Va hopital. Still waiting after five years of severe watery diarrhea six and more times a day to be addressed. They sent me outsourced which then they tied the treatment the source could give me. I have wound up in hospital and still no Dr or treatment.

    1. Sally McMurray    

      OMG, right aliong with all politicians. Do you all really think they care about you? Sorry, lobbiests out trump you. People have to realize that the president’s power is very limited unless you are like Obama who did most of his dirty work behind closed doors with select individuals. CONGRESS people!!!!!!! .CONGRESS has teh most power. It doesn’t matter what president is in office, rather it matters largely on who is in congress.

  5. Edward Chapman    

    Anyone know if a mysterious $3k payment, made to me today, has something to do with this bill?
    ,

    1. Kathleen T Holland    

      Wouldn’t that be nice! But my husband and I, both Retired Navy, disabled, weren’t blessed with any 3K check. Good for you!!
      Nothing much will change with Trump & the VA. I voted for him, with high hopes….. 🙁

    2. K R    

      Maybe it’s back payment for a claim?

  6. CLINTON KING    

    this is all good but what about those of us that are having to fight to get or even keep VA Disability. I was given a rating by the VA May 2016 and put in for an increase and the VA sent me to a VES Clinic for examination and the doc was kid and did not follow the instructions for testing Range of Motion and he says my knees are better in Dec 2016. i am now fighting to keep what rating i have as well as losing half of my monthly check. We filed and appeal but it did not stop them from lowering my rating by 20%.. So what help is there for us???????

  7. John Petrichella    

    How about a damn raise in VA Comp benefits ???

    1. Lula Bailey    

      I have been fighting with the VA since 2009 trying to get disability from the Camp Lejune dirty water incident. Because of this I now have leukemia, need to retire but can’t.

  8. Rafael X. Gonzalez    

    God bless our president!!!

    OIF Veteran

    1. Sally McMurray    

      How about housingand treating the homeless vets who have nothing..at least you got something

  9. IKE AKANU    

    I do trust an administration whose health proposal will take away Medicaid to so many Veterans. This is a shit show.

  10. James Harnett    

    Megan, what is your perception of this bill as to the benefits to be received by my fellow vets? I have seen many good changes made in the VA care given to my brothers and sisters, but as above, i do not trust Donald to frire personnel in VA positions any differently then he has shown in past observations, to suite his personal and/or business needs. I do not believe that he would be acting in the best interest of our vets or the American citizens.
    JMH, 1943-(and still in good health, my father is 98 and still in good physical and mental health). All males in our family have served in the USN from WW2 throughout Vietnam.

  11. Martin Chapman    

    Don’t spend it Edward! If it’s a banking error they will come for it later. Then it’s on you if it’s not there anymore.

  12. Wayne Dobson    

    I am a Gift Nam vet and maybe I am one of the lucky ones but the VA has been good for me. I have a clinic in the city where I live and have the new Orlando hospital within an hour drive.

  13. Bill McClure    

    Weather you support DJT or not it is important to report factually our experience with the VA. If something is not working find out why. As for health care in general, if you want serious improvement require all Members of Congress to have their medical needs preformed at a VA facility.

  14. George Samms    

    When will he be held accountable for what he says and does? There are many Veterans who are employed by the VA. No one gives a crap about them. They are service connected Veterans who are treated bad by their employer- the federal government. These people are able to work but many are overwhelmed and stressed out. People have no idea what really goes on at the VA. Veterans receive no special treatment and they have served their country too.

  15. Timothy M Nusbaum    

    This presidents full blown Narcissist Personality Disorder required him to make this happen to fulfill his need for admiration and recognition (from the military). The president did NOT do this for us veterans, he did this for himself and because of his mental disorder.
    .

  16. Charles Chambers    

    Being able to fire those who have “lost their way” doesn’t prevent them from losing their way…

  17. PThomas    

    My niece, a widow of a Vietnam veteran, wanted only to have a relative be able to talk to the VA in her behalf because of disabilities, not become her rep payee. Instead, VA immediately suspended her widows benefits, withheld her May monthly check, and is taking their time about giving her back her money. Contacted a California Congressman. What a joke. His office did an inquiry to VA, believed their response that money was deposited (its still outstanding and Bank provided the proof), and basically did nothing to help, saying he gave the VA the info and we just have to wait due to the VA congressional inquiry person working on the cases having a backlog. Stressing us all out. VA needs overall in its administrative and payment centers too. In the meantime, no money to pay for assisted Living Facility until the VA decides on rep payee which we didn’t ask for. Who know how long this will take. The Congressman has his salary to live on so why should he or his designated staff care about a disabled widow being able to survive?

  18. michael joseph manross    

    How about we do something for the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans help us get what we deserve give us our rights back that were taking away

    thank you

    Michael Manross a BWNVV

  19. Estelle    

    This man got into office in January which is 6 months ago. How can he be expected to turn around something this big in six months? Federal employees have a union that protects them even when the employee is at fault. Trust me, this mess was made way before Trump got there. He’s the only President in years to get a reform bill even SIGNED. It can only help since fed employees need to start performing and stop sitting on their butts. I worked with many of them when I was a contractor and 90 percent are useless. I am happy our President cares enough to start some reform on a system that’s been broken for years.

  20. William Jackson    

    All I can say is WOW, many on here are just ranting about their political views, being a VietNam Combat Grunt with the 101st ABN I see a lot of things in the VA I do not like. But once again different stories for different vets. I personally think that the VA does a lot for vets, all vets not just wartime vets, but I also see quite a bit of vets that think just because they served they are owed, the VA is meant for vets who have a service connected problem, although the VA helps almost all vets. Any time problems in the VA are brought to the top is good, that is the only way things will get done, I to had to wait for some time before I was granted any compensation for my injuries that occurred during my service, and if this bill will help get the people in place to make that easier good! It has to be better than it is now, the only way to find out is to try!

  21. joe    

    Commander and chief if you want a roll model of how a VA Hospital should be run,
    Take a good look at the Lake Nona Hospital in Orlando FL IT is the best !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. Glenn Reeves    

    I think the service is pretty good but the thing I find bad is that if you do not have a service connected disability many of the services are not available to us

  23. Loren Green    

    I have seen some very good improvement in my VA Hosp. They have always treated me , well enough but it is getting better.

  24. Bernard Berlin    

    It would be helpful if the article indicated how this bill will improve accountability. Without such information how can we know if this will make things better or is it just political “fluff?”

  25. Carlos Leon Rivera    

    Please ,,,what happens with `the Marines of camp Lejeune…I need because I very affected by years. Never answer.+

  26. Patricia Ann    

    Will there ever be a mention of what a spouse of a disabled vet goes through? As my husband’s unpaid caregiver 24/7 for years, I have given my life to his care. Please address more articles on where we fit in especially if we are in the arbitrary “PRE 9/11” category.

  27. Monique Matthews    

    What Help is put their for the Veterans children That is has been affected . Their wasn’t a lot of knowledge to tell the kids to apply or list . I’m a kid frm a Vietnam Vet and we need help also … Mental Illness as adults is not fun we can’t used our parents benefits at ALL we didn’t know and a lot of us are over 25yrs old with the effects of agent Orange we need help also . I think as a Honorable discharge kids of a Veteran we should get the same help of benefits as a spouse current or Ex … we should be able for ALL can anyone help ????

  28. James C Wakks    

    how about a ride home if miss the bus and its not my fault the soicial work says i am not eligyble why cant they give me a ride home any way? so i am stuck theree.

  29. Charles Greene    

    Question–does the Trump budget request include eliminating TDIU after age 67?

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