U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, recently highlighted the Senate’s bipartisan victories on behalf of veterans.
“We don’t have partisan arguments about veterans,” Isakson said. “On the battlefield, you don’t see Democratic veterans and Republican veterans, you see American veterans. Starting two years ago, Senator Jon Tester, who is the ranking member from Montana, and I sat down and said we’re going to work together from the very beginning to address the tough issues, and we’ve done that. In so doing, we’ve helped our veterans.”
This Congress, from 2017-2018, the Senate has passed 22 pieces of legislation that have been signed into law to reform veterans’ health care and benefits and to make the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) more responsive to the veterans it serves.
Of those bills, some of the most significant reforms include the VA MISSION Act, the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, and the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017.
Earlier this year, President Donald Trump signed into law Isakson’s VA MISSION Act, landmark legislation to dramatically improve the way the VA delivers health care.
“We’re seeing to it we give our veterans the best possible care after they have given us their best,” said Isakson about the VA MISSION Act, which streamlines the department’s community care programs in one Veterans Community Care Program to remove bureaucratic obstacles to care in the community and ensure veterans receive efficient, timely and quality care.
In 2017, the Senate passed the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, signed into law on June 23, 2017, to improve accountability at the VA and discipline employees found guilty of misconduct to ensure veterans’ care was not affected by bad actors at the department.
“Accountability is important, and our veterans want us to hold the VA accountable,” said Isakson. “The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act allows the VA to fire senior executives who are not doing their job. We wanted the people at the VA to know that we aren’t going to take bad behavior at the VA. We’re only going to have the best for our veterans.”
Isakson also addressed the committee’s oversight of the ongoing integration of health records between the VA and the Department of Defense (DOD) by Cerner health information and electronic health record technologies.
Isakson thanked the employees of the VA and committed to ensuring that the VA makes appointments to fill vacancies in top leadership positions to help improve continuity of care and management of VA facilities.