President Trump Signs VA Whistleblower Law
Surrounded by veterans representing various advocacy groups, President Trump recently signed the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017. The act grants additional protections to VA personnel who come forward to report corruption, abuse, and inefficiency within the Department of Veterans Affairs. This is an important reform to an agency with a history of cover-ups and retaliation against insiders who risked their careers to reveal systemic mismanagement and corruption that literally cost veterans their lives.
According to the Daily Signal, the law also creates a streamlined process to remove, demote, or suspend any VA employee for poor performance or misconduct. It also gives the VA secretary additional authority to “reduce an employee’s federal pension if he is convicted of a felony that influenced his job at the VA and to directly appoint individuals to the positions of medical center director at VA centers.”
At the signing ceremony, the president noted that “Many veterans died waiting for a simple doctor’s appointment. What happened was a national disgrace, and yet some of the employees involved in these scandals remained on the payrolls. Outdated laws kept the government from holding those who failed our veterans accountable.”
Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin made a point of stating that the purpose of the new law is not to fire more people, but to establish a culture of higher standards: “Getting the right people in place not only involves removing people that have lost their way, but more importantly it involves attracting the very best and the brightest to serve our country’s veterans.”
Changing the culture of an agency as large and widely dispersed as the VA can seem an insurmountable task. But legislation like this gives us a measure of hope that the current Congress and administration are committed to improving service to our veterans. Secretary Shulkin has shown himself to be earnest in his desire to improve the VA, and this law may finally give him the tools to do his job.
If you or a veteran you love has trouble accessing VA benefits, the attorneys with Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban are prepared to help anywhere in the United States. Call us at 866-866-VETS or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.