Veterans Affairs Problems Continue To Multiply While Congress Moves To Make It Easier To Fire Employees

As Veterans Affairs struggles with possible hospital closures, dead veterans who didn’t receive care and bad employees, Congress took its first step towards making it easier to fire employees who fail to do their job.

Currently, Veterans Affairs faces a $2.5 billion shortfall. Added to the scandals is the building of a new VA hospital in Denver, Colorado, which is currently $1 billion over budget. So far, the Veterans Administration covered the budget shortfall by taking money from clinical salaries, medical equipment, and other operating expenses. In the Washington Post, Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson of Veterans Affairs, said this could cause hospitals to shut down if the money wasn’t restored.

“If these program funds are not restored, VA will face shutting down hospital operations during August 2015.”

As previously reported by the Inquisitr, many veterans are struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and many veterans don’t get treatment because of the stigma attached. Veterans Affairs often prescribe medication to treat what is essentially a mental issue and not a disease.

VA officials sent a plan to Congress to shift $3 billion from the Choice Card plan, a feature added to veterans’ healthcare that allows veterans to seek treatment outside the VA. Started last year, the fund has been underused since its inception. This comes at a time when veterans’ wait times are up 50 percent over the last year according to Veterans Affairs agency officials.

The Associated Press reported that Veterans Affairs has been unable to determine how many veterans have died while waiting on pending applications for healthcare. The Veterans Administration estimates that as many as one-third of those on the waiting list of around 875,000 veterans have died.

The most significant problem for Veterans Affairs is firing employees. Although last year, Congress made it easier for the Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald to fire senior executives, this doesn’t affect firing other employees. House Republicans claim the VA hasn’t done enough to fire bad employees while the VA claims it is making an effort to fire them.

Over 1,500 employees have been fired by the department out of 340,000 employees total. The VA also pushed for the removal of the six senior executives. Four of those executives were fired while the other two retired according to spokeswoman Victoria Dillon.

Republican representative Jeff Miller of Florida, chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, introduced a bill in the House that would make it easier to fire any employee for misconduct or performance. Miller said bad employees needed to be fired.

“There are some rotten people that work in the department that need to be fired, not protected.”

Have you experienced long wait times at the Department of Veterans Affairs? What do you think should be done to fix the VA?

[Photo Credit The Tradesman Group]