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Donnelly, Coats Request Face-to-Face Briefing from VA Leadership

June 5, 2014
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Washington, D.C. –Senators Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Dan Coats (R-IN) sent a letter (today-Thursday) to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Acting Secretary Sloan Gibson requesting a face-to-face briefing from VA leadership about whether wait times were manipulated or scheduling concerns exist at Indiana VA health facilities.

 

Donnelly and Coats’ letter to Gibson is a follow-up to the Senators’ joint letter to then-VA Secretary Eric Shinseki on May 20. Donnelly and Coats still are waiting for a response from the VA to that letter, and they reiterated their concerns about the widespread reports of misconduct at several VA Medical Centers nationally.

 

In Donnelly and Coats’ letter sent Thursday they wrote, “We are troubled by new feedback and the latest news reports that have highlighted concerns about long wait times at VA facilities in Indiana. We have a responsibility to our Hoosier veterans and all Americans to be transparent about what has gone wrong…It is critical that we receive a complete and timely assessment of Indiana’s VA facilities so that Congress and the VA can take decisive, well-informed action to fix any problems at their source.”

 

The Senators requested a briefing with the VA leadership to discuss wait times and whether unauthorized scheduling practices occurred in Indiana and identify short and long-term solutions that will resolve this problem comprehensively.

 

To see a copy of the signed letter, click here. Full text of the letter is below.

 

June 5, 2014

 

 

The Honorable Sloan D. Gibson

Acting Secretary

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

810 Vermont Avenue NW

Washington DC 20420

 

Dear Acting Secretary Gibson,

 

As a follow up to our May 20, 2014 letter to then-Secretary Eric Shinseki, we are writing to reiterate our concerns about the widespread reports of misconduct at several VA Medical Centers around the country and to request that the Department of Veterans Affairs immediately provide us with a briefing on wait times and potential scheduling concerns at VA health facilities in Indiana.

 

We strongly support the ongoing efforts by the Department to investigate and respond to problems at VA facilities nationwide, as well as decisions to hold key leaders and individuals directly involved accountable for any negligence or wrongdoing.  However, we are troubled by new feedback and the latest news reports that have highlighted concerns about long wait times at VA facilities in Indiana. We have a responsibility to our Hoosier veterans and all Americans to be transparent about what has gone wrong.

 

In order to ensure our veterans receive the quality care they deserve, it is critical that we receive a complete and timely assessment of Indiana’s VA facilities so that Congress and the VA can take decisive, well-informed action to fix any problems at their source. The path forward will require a long-term commitment to the VA, smarter policies and better resources to ensure that we honor our promise to America’s service members and veterans.

 

Once again, on behalf of nearly 500,000 Hoosier veterans, we ask that you immediately verify and report to us on the status of wait times and the use of unauthorized scheduling practices throughout Indiana. We request a face-to-face meeting to discuss the aforementioned issues with the Department’s leadership and to identify short-term and long-term solutions that will resolve this problem comprehensively.

 

As the war in Afghanistan draws to a close, the veteran population in Indiana and elsewhere will continue to grow. We must act quickly to ensure these new veterans have good reason to enroll for the benefits they have earned and to deliver on the promise of getting them the very best care.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

Senator Joe Donnelly and Senator Dan Coats

 

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