Nevada Senator Harry Reid met with Robert McDonald, nominee to be Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, yesterday prior to his confirmation hearing. Reid discussed his concerns over mismanagement at VA health facilities around the country and underscored the need for the Department of Veterans Affairs to reestablish trust with the veterans it serves. A recent audit showed the VA was not serving the needs of Nevada's veterans at their Las Vegas and Reno facilities.
"I remain greatly concerned about the situation at the VA," said Senator Reid. "A change of leadership at the VA will not solve the systemic problems within the agency. The VA must act quickly to investigate and remove those responsible for mismanagement. I fought hard so that Las Vegas could have a brand-new veterans hospital, and I will work very closely with the agency to ensure that the Las Vegas facility becomes one of the best in the nation and that long standing issues with wait times at the Reno facility are corrected immediately. It is my hope that under Robert McDonald's leadership, VA facilities in Nevada, and throughout the country, will get back on the right track.
"The Senate passed a good bipartisan Veterans bill to help address some of these concerns. House and Senate negotiators are in conference committee working toward an agreement but as I have said before, if conference goes on much longer I don't see why we cannot pass the Senate bill to address these needs as quickly as possible. I look forward to Robert McDonald's quick confirmation. Our veterans, nationwide and in Nevada, have served us admirably. It is our duty to ensure we provide them with care they have earned."
Background on Senator Reid's Efforts to Support our Nations' Veterans
Senator Reid has long fought to ensure that service members, veterans, and their families receive the retirement and health care benefits that they were promised and deserve. Reid took swift action on the VA claims backlog. Working with President Obama, the VA, and officials at the Reno VA Regional Office, he ensured that claims are adjudicated quicker. Reid supported legislation in 2008 that provided $100 million to hire 1,400 claims related personnel. In 2009, Senator Reid provided $150 million to hire temporary claims processing personnel and supported legislation in 2010 that provided $460 million to hire 4,048 additional claims processing personnel. As part of the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2014, Senator Reid secured $2.455 billion to help reduce the claims backlog--an increase of more than $294 million over Fiscal Year 2013 funding. Senator Reid continues to support President Obama's plan to end the claims backlog by 2015 and will continue to push the VA so that this goal is met.