Sunday, August 16, 2015
A letter from Senator Johnny Isaccson
As someone who has contacted my office about veterans' issues in the past, I thought you would appreciate an update on the work I have been doing on behalf of Georgia's veterans as chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs this Congress. I take very seriously the challenges that face our nation's veterans, and as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, I stand committed to ensuring responsible oversight of the Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA).
As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, I am pleased to highlight the bipartisan accomplishments on behalf of our nation's veterans so far this year. Since the start of the 114 th Congress, the Senate has passed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act (H.R.203) , the Veterans Identification Card Act of 2015 (H.R.91), the VA Budget and Choice Improvement Act (H.R.3236), and two bills to extend authorization for the construction of the Denver VA Medical Center, which have all been signed into law.
We came into this Congress facing serious challenges. With last year's wait time scandal at the VA hospital in Phoenix and the subsequent reforms Congress passed in the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act , the committee was presented with two very important tasks. First, to make sure that those responsible for misconduct were held accountable, and second, to ensure that the law is implemented properly and is working for our veterans.
It is no secret that the VA needs a lot of work. But as chairman of the committee, I am committed to making sure that we address these issues for our veterans. In order to do this, necessary changes must be made to the VA. The Senate took those first steps by approving the nominations of Dr. David J. Shulkin to be the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Under Secretary for Health and LaVerne H. Council to be Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs for Information and Technology.
It is far too often that I pick up the paper and see accounts of another scandal at another VA facility. That is why in April of this year, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing in Colorado to examine the rampant mismanagement and cost overruns of the construction of the new Denver VA Medical Center. I will continue to work to establish a policy of regular visits to the VA headquarters and hosting town hall meeting with VA employees. As a committee, we are working day in and day out to end this culture of corruption and neglect and to bring accountability back to the VA for our nation's veterans.
In addition, the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs has approved both the Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2015 (S.1493), to provide a cost-of-living increase for veterans' benefits, as well as the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability Act of 2015 (S.1082), to expedite removal of delinquent or underperforming VA employees.
My ongoing priority as Chairman will be overseeing the implementation and improvement of the Veterans Choice Program by enabling more veterans to qualify to receive health care in their community. I will continue the oversight hearings the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee has held on the Veterans Choice Act, VA opiod prescription policy, women veterans, and veteran homelessness.
I am proud of the work that our committee and the Senate have been able to accomplish in my first six months as chairman to help our veterans. From passing legislation to help prevent veteran suicide, to holding the VA accountable and bringing oversight directly to the VA, we are working hard to see to it that veterans get the health care and benefits they deserve.
Thank you again for contacting me, and I hope you will not hesitate to call on me in the future if I can be of assistance to you. Should you have any additional questions or comments, please let me know or visit our website at www.veterans.senate.gov .
United States Senator