The past year has been a tough one for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as for the people it serves. The organization was rocked by scandal after the revelation that many veterans languished in poor health on incredibly lengthy waiting lists.
Now, the V.A. is responding.
The New York Times reports that new Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert A. McDonald wants to hire “tens of thousands of new doctors, new nurses, [and] new clinicians.” Many have blamed the waitlist scandal on the agency’s short-staffed employment numbers.
But is McDonald’s proposal practical? He himself admitted that he’s concerned about whether the V.A. can actually recruit and hire that many talented people.
Of course, a larger employee roster will not by itself solve all of the Department’s problems. Accordingly, as the Times reports, McDonald also proposed the following:
- Flattening the V.A.’s hierarchical structure
- Eliminating potential incentives for misrepresenting wait-time data
- Fostering a new departmental culture in order to encourage constructive criticism and dissent
- Taking additional steps to make it easier for veterans to access care (the details for which are reportedly forthcoming)
It is encouraging to see Veterans Affairs acting aggressively to address some very concerning problems. But as is often the case with the government, what is proposed may not translate to what is achieved. Only time will tell.
In the meantime, however, the Department’s existing policies and procedures are having a very real impact on real people — right now, today. They need our help.
If you or a loved one is concerned about veterans benefits or other V.A.-related legal issues, please feel free to contact my office today.