Congressman Brown Introduces Bill to Address Chronic Staffing Shortages at VA
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Anthony G. Brown (MD-04) introduced the VA Staffing and Vacancies Transparency Act of 2017 – a bill requiring the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to post the number of job vacancies at the VA and report to Congress on what steps the Department is taking to reach full staffing capacity. Currently, the Department has posted 2,300 openings despite having nearly 50,000 total vacancies, 92 percent of them are doctors, nurses, mental health counselors and other clinical professionals. Three years after a series of high-profile scandals and Congress appropriating $5 billion to hire additional medical staff, the VA has yet to make significant progress in addressing both long wait times for care or the prolonged staffing shortages that have reached crisis levels across the country.
“Those who honorably wear the uniform and sacrifice for our nation should be given the care, benefits and support they need. The only way we can ensure our veterans have access to timely and high quality care – especially those suffering from the opioid crisis or struggling with thoughts of suicide – is to work towards ensuring every facility has the correct number of full-time employees,” said Congressman Brown. “One vacancy is a problem; 50,000 is a national disgrace. It is imperative that Congress act swiftly to fill these critical positions so that our veterans can get world-class care at the VA. Anything short of that is a failure to live up to the promise we have made to our veterans.”
“One of the simplest ways to help veterans get the care they’ve earned, is to make sure that the VA is fully staffed, and able to tend to veterans’ needs,” said Will Fischer, Director of Government Outreach for VoteVets. “It’s not rocket science – a woefully understaffed VA can’t do its job. This legislation would help rectify the situation, and should pass immediately.”
“Thank you Rep. Anthony Brown for standing up for veterans and working people at the Department of Veterans Affairs. For too long, the American public has been kept in the dark about the growing number of vacancies at the VA, and with this new piece of legislation, there will finally be accountability,” said J. David Cox Sr., National President of American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE).
Since January, Secretary Shulkin has been calling on the Administration to fill the more than 45,000 – and growing – vacancies currently open at the VA. Once those positions are filled, more veterans will be able to receive the world-class service the VA has to offer. At a time when the VA has become a lightning rod of criticism, it’s great to see Rep. Brown go above and beyond party politics and get to the heart of the issue. The VA is the best healthcare system to serve and treat our veterans. And to do so effectively, it must be fully resourced and staffed. This transparency has been needed for a long time and is a welcome relief by the veterans who work at, and use the VA,” President Cox added.