Arlington, VA – Today Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) is releasing a web ad targeted at Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), urging her to support the VA Accountability First Act of 2017. Baldwin has been involved with rampant misconduct at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facility in Tomah, WI, including the over-prescription of opiates which earned Tomah VA the nickname “Candyland” and was flagged by whistleblowers who were ignored.
“How many more veterans will die waiting for care at the Department of Veterans Affairs?” the ad narrator asks. “How many more will be neglected by the people hired to serve them? How many more will suffer before the Senate acts?” The ad then prompts viewers to call Senator Baldwin directly in support of the bill.
The ad is part of a larger series of sixteen other VA accountability ads that CVA is launching this week. Other ad targets include Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Claire McCaskill (D-MO).
These ads come as part of a six-figure investment CVA is making to help the VA Accountability First Act of 2017 pass in the Senate this year. The group is making thousands of phone calls to constituents of Senate targets and is promoting a digital tool which connects CVA activists directly with their Senators’ offices via email and social media.
CVA Executive Director Mark Lucas issued the following statement:
“Senator Baldwin has seen firsthand what can happen because of the lack of accountability at the VA – now, she has an opportunity to act and prevent further needless tragedies. The VA Accountability First Act of 2017 will help Secretary Shulkin get rid of the bad VA employees who drive a toxic culture and fail to give Wisconsin veterans the care they need. Veterans shouldn’t have to suffer at the hands of incompetent or negligent VA employees. We urge the Senate to prioritize sending the VA Accountability First Act of 2017 to President Trump’s desk.”
President Trump, Secretary Shulkin, and most major veterans organizations support the VA Accountability First Act. Recently, Secretary Shulkin issued a press release explicitly calling upon Congress to enact legislation that would make it easier for him to fire bad VA employees. His statement came in response to a situation where he was unable to quickly fire a VA employee who watched porn with a patient.
The VA Accountability First Act of 2017 passed through the House with bipartisan support last month. The Senate version of the bill, introduced by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), has not yet been scheduled for a vote.
If passed, the 2017 VA Accountability First Act would drastically shorten the overall termination and appeals process for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employees who are found to have engaged in misconduct. Currently, that process can take months or even years. The bill also empowers the VA Secretary to recoup bonuses awarded in error or given to employees who were later found to have engaged in misconduct. Additionally, the bill gives the VA Secretary the ability to reduce the pensions of VA employees who are convicted of felonies that influenced their job performance.