Bill to improve service for area veterans


WASHINGTON, DC:   Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01) has introduced legislation that will hold bureaucrats at the Veterans Administration (VA) accountable for failing to make progress in getting America’s military veterans their benefits in a timely manner.

“I worked in a VA hospital for 20 years, so I know what it’s like to deal with the VA’s huge bureaucracy. Too many of our vets are waiting years just to get the disability benefits they deserve. When bureaucrats in Washington drag their feet and don’t do their jobs, the people who suffer are our veterans back here in Northern Michigan. If things are not getting done for our vets, then people need to be held responsible. Simple as that,” said Dr. Benishek, a general surgeon who worked at the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center for 20 years before coming to Congress.

Dr. Benishek’s new legislation will inject some accountability into the VA system by requiring the VA Secretary to determine who within the bureaucracy is responsible for fixing a public health or safety problem after the problem is identified by the Inspector General.  The bill makes it easier for supervisors to fire employees who are unable to make progress and prevents poorly performing employees from receiving financial bonuses until they’ve improved their efforts.  By holding underperforming employees at the VA accountable for fixing problems they work on, this legislation will make the VA more effective for our nation’s veterans.

“Our veterans deserve the best possible care and customer service from the VA.   Frankly, that’s not happening right now. Our local VA’s, like in Iron Mountain, do great work for our veterans every day. The problem is back in Washington. So we need to make it clear to these guys in Washington that if they are not doing their jobs, there’s going to be some real consequences,” added Dr. Benishek, who serves on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

The VA has not been able to provide veterans with timely access to their disability benefits. Currently, over 60 percent of VA disability compensation claims are more than 125 days old and deemed backlogged.