FROM THE DESK OF CONGRESSMAN YOHO
Like you, I’ve been extremely troubled by many of the reports regarding the Department of Veterans Affairs. Our servicemen and women, who have sacrificed for their country and our freedoms, are being denied care for extended periods of time. Some had to wait as long as 50 days before they could see a doctor. Even more troubling, this misconduct is not limited to one or two facilities; it is a nation-wide, systemic, problem. Even our own Gainesville VA has had issues reported that, if true, need to be addressed immediately.
On May 23rd, four Florida colleagues and I sent a letter to then Secretary Shinseki, asking him to resign. We felt that it was a strong signal to show the seriousness of these allegations and to set in motion much needed systemic reforms. Ensuring that our veterans receive the care they need should be the foundation upon which the entire organization is built.
I applaud Secretary Shinseki for his decision to resign and look forward to a new Secretary who can change the culture of misconduct that seems to have spread throughout the department. I am also committed to helping our local VA facilities become the best in the country. Our great District is home to approximately 122,000 veterans, and they deserve the comfort of knowing they will be cared for with the same integrity they showed us by answering the call of duty.
Those who have answered the call and became the tip of the spear, deserve nothing less. President Abraham Lincoln, in his second inaugural address, echoed this sentiment by saying, “let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan.”
There is a sacred trust between a veteran and the nation they risked their lives to protect. The country is forever in their debt. The misconduct that has occurred at the VA broke that trust, and we owe it to our veterans to ensure accountability and justice. Additionally, the House of Representatives recently passed legislation that would hold accountable senior officials at the VA for their poor performance and blatant misconduct. This was yet another important step in holding the VA accountable for their egregious actions.
The House of Representatives is also looking at legislation that would make it easier for our veterans to obtain care outside the VA to ensure they are seen in a timely manner. Our veterans stood up when asked, we as a country must do the same for them. As we continue to pass legislation to honor our commitment to our veterans, rest assured I will keep you informed.
Also, if you are a veteran and you need help with the VA, my office is more than happy to assist you. I have a dedicated staff of constituent advocates who would be glad to help in any way they can. You can either call the Gainesville Office at 352-505-0838 or the Orange Park Office at 904-276-9626. You can also begin the process by clicking here.