Statement from Secretary of Veterans Affairs Bob McDonald


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Secretary of Veterans Affairs Bob McDonald made the following statement regarding the construction of the Denver Replacement Medical Center in Aurora, Colorado:

The delays and costs overruns that have plagued the Denver Replacement Medical Center campus are inexcusable – on that, we all agree.

And, on behalf of Veterans, I want to work with Congress in productive ways to repair mistakes made years ago by VA officials.

But the truth of the matter is without immediate Congressional action prior to returning home for the Memorial Day holiday recess, construction on the Denver Replacement Medical Center in Aurora will shut down Sunday, grinding to a halt as Kiewit Turner demobilizes its team of contractors and sub-contractors.

The Deputy and I have been discussing the pending deadline with Congress for months.  The Congressional authorizing committees held a field hearing in Colorado on the issue.  The Congressional representatives from Colorado have been actively engaged in the Senate and the House to find a solution.  They have worked with the VA, the Congressional authorizing committees, and Congressional leadership to facilitate conversations and proposals, convey a sense of urgency on behalf of veterans, and act as good stewards for the American taxpayer.

Despite all of this work, the Congressional leadership has not acted on reasonable offers.  In fact, as late as Monday, I asked Congressional leadership to work with VA to find a way to continue construction and prevent this shutdown.  Specifically, I asked that we increase authorization for the project an additional $200 million beyond the current cap of $800 million and that VA be allowed to repurpose and reallocate our FY 2015 funds.

I have provided multiple proposals to the Congressional authorizing committee as to how we can complete this campus for Veterans.  The options were rejected and the result has been inaction.  Our Veterans deserve better than that.  I have presented a plan.  Congress has not proposed a counter plan.  I am open to reviewing any proposal that would better serve the Veterans of Colorado and the American taxpayers.  If Congressional leaders choose not to support VA’s proposals, or choose to offer feasible solutions of their own, then they will be punishing Colorado Veterans today for past VA errors.

Let me be clear. Inaction by Congress will punish the nearly 400,000 Colorado Veterans and families that Aurora will serve – as well as taxpayers across the Nation.

This shutdown can be avoided. I am confident that Congress can yet act in the best interest of Veterans and their families and work with VA to finish Aurora.

I strongly urge Congress to stand for Veterans this week and act now to prevent a shutdown of the Denver Replacement Medical Center in Aurora. We at VA remain committed to work with Congress on this and many other challenges and opportunities as we transform VA into the Veteran-centric, customer-service oriented organization Veterans have earned and deserve.

 

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Media Relations

The Office of Media Relations serves as the interface with news media representatives from newspapers and electronic media for the Department. OMR arranges interviews, provides press releases and answers media queries.

Comments

  1. Douglas Warren Ladely Jr.    

    I am a veteran of the Gulf War. I served throughout the entire Gulf War returning to Texas at the end of the war. Before joining the army I was a very healthy energetic young man of 19 years old. I had no health issues with the exception of appendicitis at the age of 17 which was removed at the time of the diagnosed ailment. Upon entering the army shortly after boot camp I was sent to Germany for my first deployment and then onto the Gulf war. Upon returning from the war. I began to experience multiple symptoms of chronic health conditions. Migraines, chronic fatigue, bowel issues, and gastrointestinal issues. I went to my local VA facility (Spokane Wa) VA hospital, I was examined poked prodded and underwent multiple tests. I then received a letter stating I had a 20 percent disability
    This was in effect for several years, when I again had a complete review of my health issues and then received a forty Percent disability. This remained in effect for just over a year at which time I received a letter stating my disability would no longer be in effect as I had missed an appointment I was unaware I had. Although I have appealed this decision I have received a letter stating I must be better since I did not show up for my appointment. As it is now I am able to work maybe one day out of five due to severe migraines ,gastrointestinal issues and or chronic fatigue. I have paid out thousands of dollars for private care treatments, medications and diagnostic testing and I continue to have these major health issues. I feel abandoned by my country which I swore to protect. I am a forty seven year old man who is in danger of losing my job and all I have worked for due to my health issues, which were at onetime recognized as a direct result of my military service during the Gulf war. Please respond via e-mail sincerely Doug W Ladely Jr.

  2. Robert McKnight    

    Mr. McDonald is doing a extraordinary job heading up the VA. He is improving the system each day he reports for work. He cannot operate the very large system without proper funding from the Congress.
    It’s that simple. A congress who cuts everything that deals with people related subjects attacks the Veteran administration funds with appellant abandon.
    Please do not blame Mr McDonald.
    I have seen a large improvement since he came on board.
    I am a disabled Veteran. By the way, we veterans vote and we will let your congressional members know how we feel in the next general election.

  3. Bill Koch    

    Time to get a new leader. He has failed the veterans of this country. No one fired, continuing waste of tax payer dollars, no improvements in care, no timely responses, continued long waits. If these are not grounds for firing, I do not know what would be. But, I am not holding my breath.

  4. Phyllis Nicolls    

    The VA’s ultimate responsibility is to be sure our Veterans get the care they have earned!!!! That’s # ONE, the other items on the long list can be discussed, corrected AFTER their 1st responsibility is met!! Take every Vet. who has called for appointments and refer them to accredited community hospitals along with they RECORDS from the VA. Then transfer the others to acute-care-hospitals. After the move, fire the top ‘administrators’, keep the physicians and nursing staff (they a can be in charge of making sure EACH Veteran is placed with all necessary documents…in hospitals, PTSD centers, physical therapy!! Follow up can be done upon discharge from acute care hospitals. PT, Rx’s, and follow-up care can be rendered in the homes of the the Vets…..blood draws, PT, Rx deliver,XRays, Doctor, Nurse visits can be handled in homes. The professional teams (Doctors and Nurses) can be tasked with the job of coordinating via an effective Project Management program.

    1. MikeV    

      You don’t know me Phyllis but I must disagree with you. I recently had to have serious surgery through ‘Non-VA-Care’ and when I was under the care of the civilian hospital they messed up my medications. Two of them are CRITICAL medicines. So, long story short, they don’t care about you either.

  5. Veteran X    

    The VA is a huge dysfunctional self contained cover up mess. Secretary McDonald I have both written and called your cell phone number, and reported directly to you about factual cover up, whistleblower retaliation, and all you and your staffers did was email the corrupt Director at my VA. This is unacceptable.

    When you have corruption and dysfunctional systems you need independent audit conducted by external source. STOP dragging your fourth point of contact and get the job done. If you can’t lead please step down. Respectfully submitted, with a reality based request.

  6. deborah joiner    

    there will never be enough money to help us veterans and yes blame Congress for cutting funding.
    Mr.McDonald is doing what he can and needs help in doing so he needs us veterans to be the watch dog and eyes and ears to help let him know of the delays in care and the waste of tax payers money and on cost overruns since Congress does not always follow up with visits to see how the money is used correctly . everything always looks good on paper but when you actually see the results they don’t always match up .its easy to be on this side and criticize but unless you are walking and talking and producing of what is expected of Mr.McDonald I will hold off and instead offer to help in anyway i can .

  7. EMPTHEENEMY    

    I strongly urge Congress to ping every electronic funding line, to see where the funds actually are deposited. The Department CANNOT be run correctly without Reprimands being a serious disciplinary action! A new office of Reprimands is needed! Guard all Government VA Records Vaults, with machinegun carrying armed guards!

  8. MSgt FC Montney III    

    Why do you people bother making comments on this web page? Do you think someone is actually reading it that cares or will/can do anything?

  9. Charles Richardson    

    Maybe if you took back some of the bonuses administrators got who falsified records to cover up them not doing their jobs you might not be so short of funds, eh?

    1. Michael Wright    

      Maybe its time to stop worrying about something we can’t do anything about, stop sniveling about what this guys predecessors did and fix the problems that we can do something about. I am not a big fan of this guy, but we can’t keep punishing him for something that his predecessors did, its not productive and its not fixing the problems that currently exist. Past is the past, there is nothing we can do about it now, its time to do battle with the assets on hand and until he has proven he is as criminal as his predecessors we need to support him to get or veterans the care they need.

  10. MikeV    

    I have an incredible story to tell of the VA nearly murdering me 13 times in the last 18 years but nobody wants to listen.

    ESPECIALLY McDonald!!!

    One of the facilitys was the DENVER VA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The other…the Cheyenne VA 12 times!!!

    Well McDonald, I dare you to contact me. I deserately need intervention but the system you manage is very DYSFUNCTIONAL to say the least. I can help you fix the mess YOU are in.

  11. James Dobson    

    So, Let me get this straight….Your agency has been wasting money for several years, giving substandard service to veterans for several years, refusing to hold managers accountable for several years. You have been in charge and laws wee passed to allow you to fire bad managers of whom you have fired one, and you are blaming congress for not giving you more money to waste? Not only no, but HELL NO. If you can’t do your job, we should get someone who can

    1. Michael Wright    

      So let me get this straight James, you want everything fixed but you don’t want to fund it because because his predecessors screwed the pooch? As much as I opposed putting a corporate man in this possession, and I don’t like his lying about his service, he is at least trying to get this hospital built for veterans, the hospital was long under construction before he took office and so were the cost overruns, he’s just left with fixing it. If he doesn’t get congress to budge then the $1.8 billion already spent will be wasted and the veterans will still be without a much needed hospital and treatment. If congress doesn’t want to pay to treat us veterans than they need to stop sending us off to fight their battles, its the cost of war.

      1. MikeV    

        2 MW! Some of your statement makes sense. But, I agree with Mr. Dobson. Why not target the contractors that are ripping off the taxpayers. If you haven’t been to Colorado then you don’t know how much they rip off everyone on the contracts…even the government!!! That, in and of itself, is a threat that our beloved…now I’m sick…’Homeland Security’ folks must deal with. It IS a terrorist threat to the Veterans of this country. These monsters you call legitimate contractors are milking a large project in Cheyenne, WY at the VA. A, much overdue, state-of-the-art mental health facility is waaaaay overdue and waaaaaaaaaaaaaay overbudget.

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