Barletta Joins Local Veterans for Roundtable Discussion
WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) on Friday, September 22, 2017 attended a roundtable discussion on veterans issues, where he had the privilege of introducing the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), David Shulkin.
“I was honored to introduce Secretary David Shulkin, and to welcome him to Mechanicsburg to have an important conversation with the veterans of our community,” said Barletta. “Secretary Shulkin, who is no stranger to Pennsylvania, is a distinguished physician by trade, and uniquely qualified to serve as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.”
The roundtable was well-attended by local representatives from the veterans community, who are best-positioned to inform the discussion on how to improve the services provided to those who have served. During the conversation, veterans were able to share their vision on how to address systemic issues at the VA, including long wait times and claims backlogs.
In July, Barletta voted for, and the House passed, H.R. 3219, the Make America Secure Appropriations Act, which provides $78.3 billion for the VA – the highest level of funding ever for that agency. In addition, the bill provides $69 billion for VA medical care so that veterans can receive mental health and suicide prevention services, treatment for traumatic brain injury, opioid abuse prevention, and other medical services, such as rural health initiatives. The bill also includes $65 million for upgrading the VA electronic record system, as well as $156 million for the Board of Veterans Appeals to address claims backlogs.
Barletta also voted for legislation in June, S. 1094, the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017, which would institute necessary reforms at the VA by providing the Secretary with the authority to expeditiously remove, demote, or suspend any VA employee for performance or misconduct, while maintaining due process for employees. On average, it takes six months to a year to remove a permanent civil servant in the federal government – an unacceptable timeline given the immediate impact they have on veterans’ wellbeing. President Trump has since signed the bill into law.
“I commend Secretary Shulkin and the Trump Administration for the action they have taken to restore veterans’ trust in the government that is indebted to them,” Barletta said. “Already, Secretary Shulkin has helped usher VA accountability legislation through Congress, and has made the VA the first health care system in the country to publish waiting times at its clinics – a victory for accountability, which we owe to our heroes.”