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.
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.