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National Veterans Administration  
Information specific to National Veterans Legisltion

Legislative Report August 2017 (for PDF format of this report select PDF on this page).
Col Lorna Griess, USA Ret.


On June 21, 2017, I attended the Assembly’s 10th Annual Veterans of the Year luncheon. It is a wonderfully elaborate celebration honoring veterans who are going above and beyond to help other veterans in the Assembly districts all over California. The veteran is recommended by the Assembly member in his/her districts.


This year the main speaker was Darin Selnick, Senior Advisor to the Secretary, US Department of Veterans Affairs. He spoke about the “NEW V.A.” Listed below are points from his speech.

The VA Secretary’s Top Five Priorities are:
Greater Choice for Veterans
Modernize our System
Focus Resources More Efficiently
Improve Timeliness of Services
Suicide Prevention.


Access to care: Same day Services for primary care and mental health initiated at all of our 168 medical Centers
Over 22% of patients are seen on the same day.
16% of primary care clinics are over 100% capacity
10% of community based clinics do not offer same-day services, 100% will offer same day by year end.
The Choice Program increased access to care – Today we have 500,000 community providers in the network and growing. Only 65% of claims submitted electronically. VA takes 30 days to process clean claims.
Due to existing rules and policies, only 3 DOD facilities are part of the Choice Program.
Fourteen of the Medical Centers have a 1 star rating (below the community standard of care). Teams are being deployed to fix that.


Disability claims: Currently there are over 90,000 claims that are taking over 125 days to process. VA is working toward a paperless process. VA is working on improving the IT infrastructure.


Capitol Assets:

On Average VA buildings are nearly 60 years old with only half built since 1920. 449 buildings are from the Revolutionary and Civil wars – 96 are vacant. 591 buildings built in the WWI era - 141 are vacant. More than 400 vacant buildings and 735 underutilized facilities are costing tax payers $25 million a year.


Accountability – under current law, VA must wait at least one month to hold an employee accountable for misconduct or poor performance. There are about 1,500 disciplinary actions pending, meaning we are paying people who need to be fired, demoted, or suspended without pay for violating our core values. Change in legislation has already been announced.


Administration and Bureaucracy – VA will establish a Position Management System, consolidate program offices, implement shared services and reduce overhead by at least 10%. Expand graduate medical education training opportunities to help with staffing shortages. VA is civil service – the pay for specialty healthcare providers is 18 to 25% below the national average. Hard to recruit new employees.
VA will look at waste, fraud and abuse,
Preventing veteran suicide
is a top clinical priority. It will authorize emergency mental health services for those that were other than honorable discharged – the highest risk population. This will cause controversy. These guys got in trouble because of PTSD or TBI and were discharged under less than honorable conditions. That needs to be corrected.

California Council of MOAA
California Council of MOAA
California Council of MOAA
California Council of MOAA