Arkansas's U.S. Senators Call for Action at Department of Veterans Affairs

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Arkansas's two U.S. senators are calling for action at the Department of Veterans Affairs after reports on alleged mismanagement of the nation’s veterans hospitals.

Sen. Mark Pryor and Sen. John Boozman both issued the following news releases on the growing scandal.

Pryor Takes Action to Uncover Extent of VA Failure
LITTLE ROCK, AR - After promising action to uncover the full extent of the scandal stemming from disturbing reports about the treatment of veterans at the VA in Phoenix, AZ, U.S. Senator Mark Pryor met yesterday with Michael Winn, the director of the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System in Little Rock, to determine whether any of the same abuses occurred here in Arkansas.

At 9 a.m. this morning, Pryor will also speak with the head of the VA facility in Fayetteville to ask the same tough questions.

“The recent reports detailing the systemic failure within the VA are appalling. I promised our Arkansas veterans I'd get to the bottom of this, and after asking some tough questions of federal officials it’s very clear that something needs to be done immediately to correct these problems," Pryor said. "I appreciate Director Winn for leveling with me about the Little Rock VA’s waiting list, and I’ll continue to push for answers to ensure our state’s veterans are receiving the care they deserve.” 

During yesterday's meeting, Pryor asked Director Winn whether the Little Rock VA is facing the same issues that the Inspector General (IG) is now investigating at other VA facilities throughout the country. Specifically, Pryor requested information about the center’s electronic waiting list procedures and whether Arkansas veterans are experiencing delays in patient care. Winn said the Little Rock VA has recently been audited, but it has not been investigated further by the IG. 

This morning, Pryor will speak with Dr. Mark Enderle, Director of the Veterans Healthcare System of the Ozarks. Pryor is a cosponsor of the VA Accountability Act, bipartisan legislation that seeks to reform the VA and improve its accountability to our nation’s veterans. Last week, he voted to advance the measure as part of the FY 2015 Military Construction-VA appropriation bill.

Boozman: Leadership Change at VA Necessary, But That Alone Will Not Fix Problem 
WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, today called for a leadership change at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) while stressing that President Obama needs to do more to fix the failures that have cost our veterans timely medical care they need and earned.  

"The failures within our VA medical system pose a problem in need of an immediate solution and the President's ability to manage this crisis to this point has been nothing short of disappointing. The public, a large portion of the veterans’ community, and much of Congress have lost faith in Secretary Shinseki's ability to make the necessary changes to fix the shortcomings that have cost our veterans timely medical care they need and earned. The administration must take quick action to regain that confidence, and up to now, a sense of urgency in the White House has been lacking to say the least. 

While a leadership change at VA is in order, a new secretary alone will not absolve the President of his responsibility to ensure our veterans receive quality care in a timely manner. If there is a sense of complacency that has set in within VA, it is the President's responsibility to reverse that course which will require much more effort on his part than merely nominating a new secretary."

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