U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin Writes VA Secretary about Agency's Issues

By: WSAZ News Staff Email
By: WSAZ News Staff Email

WASHINGTON (WSAZ) -- U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., on Wednesday sent a letter to Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki calling for an outside, independent audit of the VA, according to information from Manchin's office.

Manchin also called for expedition of the agency’s internal review that is currently underway.

Manchin urges Shinseki to assess the efficacy of the VA’s structural, systematic and personnel divisions to make sure veterans receive the best available services in a timely manner.

Manchin writes, in part: “I urge you to expedite the internal review currently underway at the VA, to embrace its findings, both good and bad, and to act decisively as the leader of the VA to hold your subordinate officials at all levels to account for their performance. I also suggest that your internal review may need to be bolstered by an objective external review commissioned by Congress.”

The complete letter is as follows:

Dear Secretary Shinseki,

I am deeply concerned after learning of additional evidence of delays in treatment provided to veterans at Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals, and allegations that mishandled, or worse, deliberately manipulated recordkeeping has kept some veterans from receiving care in a timely manner or at all.

While I have not yet joined in calls for your resignation, I assure you that patience in Congress for what we perceive as inaction on the part of the VA to immediately and fully address these issues is vanishingly thin.

I urge you to expedite the internal review currently underway at the VA, to embrace its findings, both good and bad, and to act decisively as the leader of the VA to hold your subordinate officials at all levels to account for their performance.

I also suggest to you that your internal review may need to be bolstered by an objective external review commissioned by Congress.
There is wide acknowledgement that your tenure as Secretary has coincided with a period of war and post-war that has stressed the capabilities of the VA. In addition, new policies have been put in place to fast-track disability claims for a range of new service-connected illnesses, placing additional stress on the VA. But the fact that this is a demanding period for the VA is not an exemption for your department’s effective and efficient discharge of its duties.

As you conduct your internal review, I would ask that you provide to Congress your frank recommendations about what authorities you currently lack which prevent you from most effectively managing the VA, as well as a summary of the statutes and regulations that impinge on your ability to execute your duties.


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