Durham, NC – Earlier this week disturbing photos emerged from the Durham VA Medical Center depicting veterans lying on the floor in pain for hours while being denied care from VA employees.
A former U.S. Marine, who was at the medical center for treatment, captured the disturbing scene of veterans who appeared to be suffering in the waiting room. One veteran used his bag of medication as a pillow after he was declined a reclining chair as he allegedly waited for hours. While the images have gone viral, the matter is currently being investigated. The Director of the Durham VA has removed an employee from patient care pending an internal review.
Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) North Carolina Coalitions Director John Byrnes issued the following statement:
“The pictures captured at the VA in Durham are heart-wrenching, but what is even more disturbing is that the veterans in the waiting room likely did not even have the option to seek care elsewhere. Veterans deserve the choice to leave the VA for care in the private sector, particularly when the VA is failing them. Negligent VA employees who let veterans suffer on their watch must also be terminated without delay or prejudice. While this particular case is under investigation, the tragedy of American veterans suffering as they wait for care is commonplace at VAs in North Carolina and across the country. Congress must pass strong choice and accountability measures to end the toxic VA culture that leaves American heroes waiting for the care they need and deserve.”
Yesterday the VA Accountability First Act of 2017 was introduced to the House Veterans Affairs Committee. If passed, the bill would make it easier to terminate bad employees at the VA. The act would drastically shorten the overall termination and appeals process for VA employees who are found to have engaged in misconduct. Currently, that process can take months or even years.
CVA also supports the Caring for our Heroes in the 21st Century Act. The aim of this legislation is to provide more options for veterans who find that, for whatever reason, the VA system does not meet their needs, and to give the veteran health care system more flexibility to account for the demographic shifts in the veteran population.
New VA Secretary David Shulkin has already indicated his strong support for accountability and choice reforms. Secretary Shulkin recently outlined his top priorities for the embattled VA. These priorities include more accountability measures for employees, and eliminating the current Choice Program in favor of a better choice solution.