VA Secretary Kicks Off His Tampa Visit with PM Tampa Bay

posted by Ryan Gorman - 

KEY TAKEAWAYS: 

  • Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie leads the second largest department in the federal government, and also one that has had some serious problems. One notable issue is the backlogs in veteran care, even right here in Tampa at a James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital, where thousands of exams have been cancelled without following safety guidelines. Sec. Wilkie says that these problems are bureaucratic and administrative, but that Congress just allotted a $200 billion budget to the Dept. of Veterans Affairs and that should help to reduce these problems. 
  • There's been a slew of stories about problems in the VA, but Sec. Wilkie says many of these stories contain old information. He says that Inspector General Reports can take up to 5 years to compile, making outdated cases come to light long after the core issues have been solved. 
  • In response to the apparent lack of preparedness for service members returning from Iraq, Sec. Wilkie says that advances in battlefield medicine are saving more soldiers, thmaking more work for hospitals. Today, people survive that would never have survived previously, and while this is a great thing, it's causing an influx of hospital visits. 
  • In response to the ProPublica report stating that three Mar-A-Lago members have been steering VA policies, Sec. Wilkie says that he doesn't speak to these individuals on a daily basis, but will listen to anyone who has ideas about veterans and assisting the VA. 

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