“The entire system needs to be simplified, reformed, and refocused on its most important mission — to ‘care for those who shall have borne the battle.’”
Governor Jeb Bush
August 17, 2015
Read Jeb’s full plan to keep our promise to America’s veterans here: https://jeb2016.com/honoring-us-veterans/?lang=e
The United States is blessed with great liberties because of the courageous men and women who defend them. The bedrock of this country’s security is a strong volunteer armed forces and a sacred covenant between the citizen and the soldier.
The terrible scandals at the Department of Veterans Affairs are a national disgrace. That once-sacred covenant has been called into question.
A whistleblower revealed that the VA had misspent as much as $5 billion in taxpayer money. That’s billions of dollars that could have gone to better care, research into traumatic brain injury, cancer screenings, or new studies on post-traumatic stress.
Millions in executive bonuses were awarded to VA officials, many of whom oversaw hospitals where veterans were waiting to receive care. And only three people have since been fired for lying about the time it took for veterans to get an appointment.
First, we trusted veterans to defend our country; we can trust them to choose their doctor. They should have the right to decide to use the VA hospital system or a neighborhood doctor. Last year, a bipartisan bill gave some veterans the right to do exactly that, with some restrictions.
We should expand the access to quality health care and ease some of the constraints. If the VA cannot find a doctor for a veteran in need, then we must empower veterans to find proper health care.
Since the Veterans Health Administration has historically oriented its care toward men, the improvements to the system need to also focus specifically on services required by women veterans.
Further, many VA practices are antiquated. Their software is out of date, difficult for veterans to use, and susceptible to manipulation. Just last week, a whistleblower revealed that as many as 35,000 veterans were denied care because of a computer glitch.
The VA’s troubles are not just technical. Contracts are often awarded without a competitive bid, driving up costs and taking resources from veterans who need care. Waste is endemic, and it’s all but impossible to fire someone.
I support a House bill now before the Senate that makes it easier to fire poorly performing VA employees — especially those who have wasted taxpayer money, committed fraud, or were negligent in the care of a veteran. This isn’t just about punishing incompetence, it’s about allowing talented VA employees to be rewarded and creating incentives for the highest-quality care.
The entire system needs to be simplified, reformed, and refocused on its most important mission — to “care for those who shall have borne the battle.”
I support efforts to use the GI Bill, an educational benefit, to help veterans who want to start a business. In lieu of using it for education, they should have the option to borrow against their GI benefits for a small-business loan.
With these reforms — and others that I am proposing today as part of a broader veterans plan — we can dramatically upgrade how our government treats those who have sacrificed so much to protect us and expand opportunity so that our nation’s heroes enjoy the bounties of liberty they so richly deserve.