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4,300 VA employees fired, suspended under Trump’s VA accountability law

President Donald Trump speaks to troops while visiting U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill, AFB, FL, Feb. 6, 2017. (D. Myles Cullen/Department of Defense)
November 28, 2018

On Monday, Vice President Mike Pence said that President Trump has done an overhaul on VA employees, with 4,300 being let go, demoted, or suspended since Trump took office.

During a conference held before numerous veterans’ caregivers, Pence said this is evidence that Trump has “taken decisive action to restore accountability to the VA,” the Epoch Times reported.

VA data reports that in 2017, 2058 employees were reprimanded, and from that number, 1,484 were terminated, according to Military Times.

Since Aug. 31, 2018, 2,148 out of 2,299 employees were fired, while the rest were demoted or suspended for 14 days or more.

The VA employees included the VA’s health care operations, the National Cemetery Administration, the Office of Information and Technology, and the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection (OAWP).

Those employees that have been terminated include two senior leaders in the Veterans Health Administration and one in the Veterans Benefits Administration.

Suspensions have included two senior leaders in the Veterans Health Administration and one health-system specialist.

By executive order, President Trump signed the Veterans Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act in June, allowing changes to a broken system that let veterans to die while awaiting VA treatment, while also protecting whistleblowers who report neglect.

Trump called the act “one of the largest reforms to the VA in its history.”

“Outdated laws kept the government from holding those who failed our veterans accountable. Today, we are finally changing those laws. VA accountability is essential to making sure that our veterans are treated with the respect they have so richly earned,” Trump said.

The changes were made after Army veteran Barry Coates addressed the House Veterans Affairs Committee and told them the “gross negligence” and “crippling backlog” at the VA handed him a “death sentence” and “ruined the quality” of his life.

Coates had cancer that VA doctors didn’t diagnose for a year and he died as a result in Jan. 2016.

Also, in 2016, 18 veterans died awaiting appointments after being put on a surreptitious waiting list at a Phoenix VA, and another 17 cases were being investigated.

Robert Grier, who is a caregiver for his veteran father, said, “You have to be patient. It’s so busy, you wait in line for the parking garage for an hour.”

Trump also signed the VA Mission Act designed to reduce waiting times for vets when they need care outside of an area that they reside in, according to the Daily Signal.

Grier said he was on vacation in Florida with his father when a medical emergency warranted emergency care for his dad.

Grier called VA and they told him there was no VA hospital close enough to him and they directed him to a local hospital, reassuring him the costs would be covered.

“They assessed him, they gave him treatment—it took a couple of hours until we were finished—and it was fantastic,” Grier said.