Miller To Obama: You Need To Get Personally Involved In Fixing The VA

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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In response to the recent announcement of a sizeable fiscal shortfall at the Department of Veterans Affairs, GOP Rep. Jeff Miller wrote a letter to President Barack Obama Tuesday, demanding he become personally involved in fixing the VA.

On Monday, VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson sent Miller, chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee (HVAC), a letter explaining the dire budget straits of the VA, prompting Miller to alert the White House regarding how bad mismanagement has become. (RELATED: VA Officials May Start Closing Hospitals Unless They Get $2.5 Billion In Funding)

“If these program funds are not restored, VA will face shutting down hospital operations during August 2015,” Gibson said Monday.

The plan VA officials hope Congress will approve includes a request to re-appropriate $3 billion from the VA Choice program for other purposes. The request, however, comes at a bad juncture. Not only does it constitute a repetition of the sort of poor budget management on display in constructing the new VA facility in Denver, but it comes at a time when the department is drowning in scandal. Legislators no longer trust the inspector general to provide unbiased assessments, or even to provide evidence requested by Congress. Veterans’ advocates are still waiting for the president to nominate a permanent inspector general, though recently the White House promised one is soon coming.

Wait times for veterans waiting a month or more for care have doubled. (RELATED: Could It Get Any Worse? VA Wait Times Up 50 Percent From Last Year)

Scott Davis, a whistleblower based in Atlanta, leaked documents Monday showing that over 238,000 veterans have died while waiting for care. And although the VA does not clear deaths from the list as they accumulate over time, this appears to be less of a justification and more of an admission that of poor administrative capability.

Miller noted that had HVAC not held a hearing June 25 to bring up the uncomfortable subject of short-term funding, Congress may never have known about the need for additional funds until the last second. As it stands now, legislators are already frustrated the budget issue was sprung on them with very little notice.

“I implore you to also get involved and lead,” Miller stated in the letter. “VA’s central office is physically located steps from the White House front door. I strongly suggest you pay a visit and get to the bottom of what is happening.”

“Just as your words matter, so does your silence,” Miller added.

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