President Obama Vows to Repair Department of Veterans Affairs; New Executive Actions Revealed
U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday revealed several new executive actions aimed to further repair the Department of Veterans Affairs, including improved mental health care and economic assistance.
The executive orders add further specifics to a bill passed this month by Congress that pledged $16.3 billion to fix the VA, which earlier this year was found to be shrouded in bureaucracy and corruption.
Addressing the American Legion in North Carolina, Obama and VA Secretary Bob McDonald promised to continue working to reform the VA, according to a report from MSNBC.
"We are going to get to the bottom of these problems," McDonald said. "We're going to fix what is wrong. We're going to do right by you and we are going to do right by your families, and that is a solemn pledge and commitment that I'm making to you here."
The White House made a point to highlight some of the progress made at the VA and provided a fact sheet to those attending the address.
The sheet said that in 17 months, 50 percent of the VA's disability claim backlog has been reduced; 250,000 veterans who were placed on wait lists have been contacted to set up wellness visits; additional staff have been sent to areas that need them the most; and a recruitment program has been started to attract better doctors, among several other things.
Obama said in his speech that his goal in the VA reform was to institute a new culture of accountability and to better protect whistleblowers in the future, USA Today reported.
The executive actions will work to improve treatment of PTSD, awareness of mental health issues, the incorporation of mental health care into primary care and help suicide prevention programs.
Obama's executive actions also include economic assistance, such as boosting military spouse and veteran employment programs, increasing access to reduced mortgage rates, and access to education for service members and their kids.
"Our service women and men have earned important financial protections under the law, but too many do not exercise these important rights," the White House said. "But when business and government work together we can make a difference."
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