On May 22, 2014 Senator Dean Heller of Nevada asked for and was granted permission to address the United States Senate regarding the VA health care crisis.
Here is some of what he had to say:
“It is no secret the Department of Veterans Affairs is facing a significant challenge with accountability at all levels of their agency. This failure of responsibility has an impact on the hundreds of thousands of veterans in my home State of Nevada.
Last month I was honored to have a number of veterans join me for a roundtable in Las Vegas. This was an opportunity for me to listen and hear their concerns. By far, nearly every veteran in attendance expressed frustrations with the VA’s claims backlog and the health care they are receiving. These veterans told me they feel discouraged and hopeless, that the VA does not and will not keep its promise.
They told me about the negative impact delays in benefits and care have on veterans and their families. Such comments should come as no surprise given the difficulties Nevada veterans are facing. Look no further than the problem of the claims backlog here in Nevada.
Although the Secretary of the VA promised there would be changes to address this problem, Nevada veterans are still waiting the longest in the Nation–up to 352 days on average–for their disability benefits claims to be processed. This is nearly three times the VA’s deadline of 125 days to complete a claim.
These issues in Nevada and the allegations raised across the country are causing veterans to lose faith in the VA, and I have raised all these concerns to the Secretary in a letter I sent 2 weeks ago. I asked for immediate answers about the lack of accountability on the local level and whether VA leadership finally plans to do something about it. Although I requested a response by Wednesday, May 21, the VA still has not responded. What these problems ultimately amount to is a lack of accountability in the VA leadership.
When I questioned the Secretary at a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing last week, he agreed he was ultimately responsible for the problems with VA care and health benefits. Despite this admission and admitting that veterans are not receiving the care they were promised, he said he does not plan to resign. So my question is: If the Secretary does not plan to resign, who is held accountable in the VA?”, said Heller (Source: Congressional Record http://thomas.loc.gov/).