Late last month, the Veterans Healthcare Policy Institute, in association with the American Federation of Government Employees, released a comprehensive report on the urgent struggles of thousands of VA employees, and how they threaten to impede the future of America’s best healthcare and benefits systems.
Entitled “Disadvantaging the VA: How VA Staff View Agency Privatization and Other Detrimental Policies,” the 74-page report leans on dozens of interviews, hundreds of written comments, and thousands of survey responses, as well as Congressional testimony, federal watchdog reports, and other previous investigations. It shows how a series of detrimental policies are inhibiting the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and the Veterans Benefit Administration (VBA) from maintaining its preeminence in providing unparalleled veterans’ services.
In the last few weeks, the report has already been the subject of news stories in Stars & Stripes, The Federal News Network, Military Times, Military.com (picked up in Yahoo), Government Executive, and elsewhere, including various public radio stations.
At a March 23 press conference, VA Secretary Denis McDonough called the report a "useful" tool because of its focus on employee morale and staffing issues. "In many ways, [the report] reflects why we have set a number one priority this year as hiring," he said, acknowledging that severe staffing shortages remain despite recent hiring efforts. "I don't want to leave you with the impression we are done."
The report was also strongly supported in a statement from the VSO co-authors of the Independent Budget, who said it "presents alarming findings."
The statement continues: "the clear conclusion from the survey is that VA needs more people, facilities, and resources to provide timely, high-quality services to the increasing number of veterans turning to VA for their care.”
To read the report, please click here.