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New VA Secretary Praised for His Actions to Clean Up the Department’s Mess

But Disturbing reports from VA hospitals continue to surface.

On Monday, new VA Secretary Robert McDonald spoke to the media about the ongoing scandal at VA hospitals and clinics nationwide and announced “The Road to Veterans Day,” his plan to reform the department.

McDonald’s ambitious plan employs a three-pronged strategy:

1. Rebuilding trust with veterans and other stakeholders;

2. Improving service delivery focusing on veterans outcomes, access and care;

3. Setting the course for longer-term excellence and reform.

Paul Rieckhoff, founder and CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), praised McDonald for his efforts.

“In his first few weeks, Sec. McDonald has continued to show veterans he has our back,” Rieckhoff said in a statement this week. “His recent visits to VA hospitals and facilities exemplify his commitment to changing the status quo at the VA. This hands on leadership and strategic plan is exactly what the VA needs after a summer of scandal and broken trust.”

However, Rieckhoff continued, “there is still a very, very long road ahead before IAVA members see a real turnaround on the ground in their hometowns. The VA’s trust with veterans has been badly broken. IAVA’s members now expect congress, the President, and the VA to rebuild that trust”

Indeed, while many are thankful for McDonald’s efforts, the troubling news about VA continues to mount.

The Washington Examiner reported Tuesday that managers at more than a dozen VA medical facilities lied to investigators about scheduling practices and other issues, according to the department’s inspector general.

Richard Griffin, VA’s acting inspector general, said his office is investigating allegations of wrongdoing at 93 VA sites across the country, including 12 reports that have been completed and submitted to the VA for review.

“The rest are very much active,” Griffin told the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee on Tuesday.

McDonald clearly has a lot of work to do to fix the widespread and deeply entrenched problems at VA. We’re keeping a close eye on his progress.

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