Veterans group hails efforts to focus on veterans, streamline VA offerings
ARLINGTON, Va.—Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) on Monday welcomed the VA’s release of the initial recommendations for the Asset and Infrastructure Review (AIR) Commission to streamline VA offerings and make bureaucracy more responsive to the veterans it serves. CVA Deputy Director, Russ Duerstine, had this to say about the recommendations:
“Today’s veteran population is vastly different from what it was even five years ago, let alone decades ago. A rigid system that cannot adapt to the changing and unique needs of the veterans it serves leads to waste, complications, and ultimately, an absence of care. We welcome these recommendations and urge all stakeholders to consider and debate them thoughtfully as they go forward. This process is long overdue, and while some may decry some of these recommendations, everyone should keep in mind the end goal: make sure our veterans can get the care they need, when and where they need it. The current system is outdated and broken. Making improvements does not mean cutting care or resources; rather, it means making sure resources are best serving the veteran.”
The Asset and Infrastructure Review process was created by the VA MISSION Act in 2018, which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress (House 347-70 and Senate 92-5).
Why the AIR Commission needed – The VA is facing significant infrastructure challenges due to unused infrastructure, aging facilities (most are over 50 years old), and rising costs ($58-71 billion) to maintain these outdated facilities. Additionally, the veteran population is estimated to shrink by nearly 40 percent within the next 25 years. Further, today’s veterans opt to live in different communities compared to previous generations creating a significant strain on some facilities and leaving others with empty beds. Finally, healthcare delivery looks different from decades ago and with the addition of the Veteran Community Care Program, veterans have even more options for care.
Inaction will hurt veterans – The AIR process is critical to providing safe, modern, and efficient facilities for veterans to have their health care needs met. If the AIR process fails to move forward, it will hurt veterans most, keeping them in a system of aging and ill-or-mis-resourced facilities. With a greater outpatient focus, alternative models of care delivery (i.e., telehealth, community care, urgent care), the physical footprint of VA-operated facilities should look different. Confirming commissioners and supporting the AIR process is key to a modern and efficient VA health care system that puts the health care needs of the veteran first.
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