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December 21, 2014

Fix the VA backlog once and for all

The brave men and women who have put their lives on the line for our country shouldn’t face a bureaucratic nightmare to get the benefits they have so rightfully earned.

And when senior leaders in the Veterans Administration fail those who have put their lives on the line for our country, they deserve a pink slip – not a bonus.

So imagine my disbelief when I learned that – despite the persistent backlog and other widespread problems identified by the VA’s Inspector General – the department’s senior executives have received “glowing performance reviews and cash bonuses of up to $63,000,” according to the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

This news comes after I’ve repeatedly pressed the administration on the VA backlog issue.

Last February and April – after hearing from a countless number of veterans in our local area who were experiencing claims issues at the regional VA office – I took action and sent letters to the VA Secretary seeking answers to the VA claims backlog. Then, last July, I was joined by Members of Congress from the Ohio delegation in a letter to the Secretary demanding a direct and transparent plan from the VA for addressing the VA backlog.

But I continue to hear about this backlog from veterans in our area almost every day. It’s simply unacceptable, and it deserves our utmost attention.

Even though the House has acted to tackle the backlog, reform won’t get far if it’s to be carried out by managers who have proven they aren’t up to the job.

That’s why I’m backing the VA Management Accountability Act (H.R. 4031), a bill introduced by House Republicans that gives the Secretary of the VA the ability to fire or demote senior executives who are not fulfilling their responsibilities to our service men and women. It’s supported by several veterans organizations, including Concerned Veterans for America and the American Legion.

The logic is simple: at the VA, when you aren’t getting the job done, you should go.

As I said in a recent speech on the House floor, the individuals at the VA who have let down our veterans should be held accountable, and we need to get people in there who can fix this backlog once and for all. The VA Management Accountability Act is an important step in keeping the pressure on the VA, and it’s an important step in our continued effort to ensure this administration fulfills its commitment to our nation’s veterans. I assure you, we’re not going to let up until this issue is resolved.

If you are a veteran living in the 8th District, please know that my office stands ready to assist you with any VA issues you may be facing. For more information, please visit or call 339-1524.

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