Open Letter from the Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs

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Not all Veterans are getting the timely access to the healthcare that they have earned. Systemic problems in scheduling processes have been exacerbated by leadership failures and ethical lapses. I will use all available authority to swiftly and decisively address issues of willful misconduct or mismanagement.

VA’s first priority is to get all Veterans off waiting lists and into clinics while we address the underlying issues that have been impeding Veterans’ access to healthcare. The President has made clear that this is his expectation.

Even as we implement these immediate actions, we will work with Veterans Service Organizations, members of Congress, academia, public and private organizations, and with all other agencies and institutions that can help us move forward.

We will also continue to depend on the faithful service of VA employees and leaders who place the interests of Veterans above their own, those who serve Veterans with dignity, compassion, and dedication, and who live by VA’s core values: Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect, and Excellence.

Finally, as we accelerate our access to care, we will not lose sight of the fact that the quality of VA healthcare remains strong. Ten years of external validations have consistently shown that, on average, Veterans who use VA healthcare rate our hospitals and clinics as high or higher in customer satisfaction than patients give most of the Nation’s private sector hospitals.

On behalf of all Veterans, I express my appreciation to Secretary Shinseki for his leadership of VA. For decades to come, Veterans will benefit from the transformation begun in the past five years.

Thank you for your support and dedication to Veterans and our mission to serve them.

Sloan D. Gibson

Acting Secretary

  • Troy R. Martin Jr.

    You should have the JOA ivestigate the MEMPHIS V A hospital. Regarding there care & there involvment in the accord study. I have no doubt lives were lost in the ACCORD STUDY becouse the partcipants were used as GUNI PIGS. BY Dr. Barney Elium, Kathy Thompson RN Rita PfifferRN. I personally was part of that study.

  • s ward

    I have been receiving treatment at various VAMC units for the last 10 years. I didn’t know a great deal about how veteran health care was SUPPOSED to be provided until after the news about the unnecessary deaths became public. I can tell you about long waits. At the VAMC in Minneapolis a veteran can wait up to 4 months for treatment. and they schedule you for follow-up appointments 3-4 months out. That was 10 years ago. I needed to see my doctor(s) more frequently and had to relocate to St. Cloud, MN where they didn’t have such long wait lists. I could be seen there every 4-6 weeks when needed. And subsequent consults with other departments would take place within 10 days. Minor surgical procedures were down on site by skilled surgeons. Usually within 10 days from diagnosis. This is what I had come to expect. Then I moved to southwest Florida to be with my daughter this last December (2013). I now receive services from the newest VA facility (one year old) in Cape Coral, Florida. and they suck. again appointment times are out for months. once in and provided a primary physician it got easier, but not with consults for things such as dental, optometry, endocrinology, etc… You have to be dead or dying to get seen in a timely manner. This is NOT acceptable. I found this facility to be guilty of all the complaints listed for the facilities that are on the “suspect” list. At this point, I must agree with the other veterans. Fire them all. Start over. and hire more veterans to fill these positions. It feels as if the civilians that hold positions at these facilities do not have the proper respect for veterans. I am tired of being abused by well paid snobs.

  • Frank Smith

    Has anyone addressed the
    “reporting procedures” on the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA)
    side of the house yet? The RO’s are just as guilty for not accurately reporting
    the true number of back-logged claims and appeals. If the number of pending
    claims and appeals are not accurately reported, this is tantamount to having a
    “true list” and a “reportable” list of pending work product

  • Douglas Brinker

    I sure do HOPE the Acting Secretary Sloan can bring what was already promised to us by former Secretary Sheshinski and that is the entire elimination of BACKLOG by 2015. According to Research there are still over 506k claims awaiting final decision, Mine personally had be 8 yrs and according to the Board of Appeals They acknowledge my Back Condition is Service Connect and assigned a 10% Rating but will not back pay me or attach it to my current 60%. Mr Sloan my Only Question Do You Really Have Each of Our Backs 110% ?

  • Valerie Gaskin Adams

    At least you can receive medical care at your VAMC, I cannot even though
    I was medically discharged from the Alabama Army National Guard on 30
    November 2006 with 19 years as an Officer. I retired as a Major.
    Tuscaloosa VA will not enroll me and I have seeking help for PTSD and
    Depression due to racism from the Alabama Army National Guard and other
    medical help for my Sleep Apnea, heart condition, Ventricular
    Tachycardia and high blood pressure.I have tried to enroll several
    times, but I am denied because of not enough active duty time. It is my
    belief that I do not need active duty time because I was medically
    discharged/retired with sleep apnea, a disability that I incurred while
    serving. I have even applied VA Disability for Sleep Apnea and other
    illnesses/diseases that I have been diagnosed with while serving in the
    Alabama National Guard. I feel that I am being discriminate against from
    the Department of Veterans Affairs in Montgomery, Alabama.
    Congresswoman Terri Sewell from Alabama sent me a letter saying the VA
    has closed my appeal file as of June 2, 2014 because I did not turn in a
    VA Form 9 to continue the appeal. The VA has given Congresswoman
    inaccurate information. VA lied to her because I have copy of my VA Form
    9 that my attorney LaVan & Neidenberg sent me. The Department of
    Justice needs to investigate Montgomery, Alabama VA. I would greatly appreciate if the DAV would complete a thorough investigation concerning my claim.