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Senior Spectrum Newspaper
August 2018
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Senior Spectrum Publications

Opinion:
by U.S. Senator Dean Heller
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One Year After Delivering VA, Our Fight Continues

 U.S. Senator Dean Heller
U.S. Senator Dean Heller

Nearly a year ago, President Trump signed into law sweeping legislation to bring accountability to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The law – called the VA Accountability and Whistle-blower Protection Act – is designed to hold bad-acting employees responsible for their actions and provide necessary protections for whistle-blowers who come forward with allegations of misconduct.

Together with my colleagues on the U.S. Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I was proud to help shepherd the historic legislation into law, which will have an impact on all VA hospitals in the U.S., including our state’s VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System and VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System, and help deliver better care to our veterans.

Among key provisions, the law gives the secretary of the VA the authority to expedite the removal of a bad employee swiftly and ensures an individual removed from the VA is not kept on the VA’s payroll while appealing that decision.

This is particularly important as before our bill became law, bureaucratic red tape stopped the VA from taking these common sense steps to hold substandard workers accountable.

But while last year’s law is commendable, and represents a major breakthrough from how the VA previously operated, there’s more work to do.

That’s why I’m urging Congress to pass my legislation that prevents the VA from hiding medical mistakes made by medical providers. The VA Provider Accountability Act, a bill I introduced with Senator Joe Manchin (DWV), requires the VA to report major adverse actions to the National Practitioner Data Bank and state licensing boards. It will also prohibit the VA from signing settlements with fired or dismissed VA employees that allow the VA to conceal serious medical errors or purge negative records from personnel files.

After defending our country, Nevada’s veterans shouldn’t be forced to battle through poor service from the government agency tasked with caring for them. As the son of a veteran who receives care from the VA in Reno, NV, I have, and always will, make sure that VA delivers on its promise “to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan.”

Earlier this summer, our nation paused to recognize Memorial Day, a time when we remember the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our individual freedoms.

But with roughly 20 veterans dying by suicide every day, and thousands of veterans living on the streets each night, we must honor the troops who gave all by standing alongside those who are still with us each and every day.

I’m honored to represent Nevada’s 300,000 military veterans, and carry their fight in Washington to deliver policies that give them the benefits, care and support that they’ve earned and deserve.

Since the start of 2017, the President has signed into law 14 pieces of legislation that I authored or helped introduce to help our state’s military heroes. This includes my Veteran Urgent Access to Mental Healthcare Act, which provides mental health services to veterans who received an ‘other than honorable’ discharge, and my Guard and Reservists Education Improvement Act, a measure that aims to increase G.I. bill payments for Guardsmen and Reservists.

Rest assured, I’m not finished yet. Fighting for our state’s heroes has been, and will remain, my top priority in the United States Senate, and I will continue to use my voice and legislate their concerns.

 

As always, if you are a veteran residing in Nevada and in need of assistance, my office is here to help. Simply visit my website at www.heller.senate.gov and submit a casework request, or call my Las Vegas office at 702-388-6605 and my Reno office at 775-686-5770 where a member of my staff can assist you.