Schatz, Delegation Meet with VA Secretary
United States Department of Veteran Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald met with Senator Brian Schatz and members of the Hawai’i delegation on Monday to discuss the VA’s progress on improving services and expanding access to health care for Hawai‘i’s veterans.
Prior to the meeting, Senator Schatz released the following statement regarding a June 2014 study that revealed long wait times for veterans at the Spark M. Matsunaga VA Medical Center in Honolulu:
“Since an audit last year found inexcusable wait times for Hawai‘i’s veterans, we’ve taken critical steps to cut wait times, improve accountability at the VA, and expand access to health care. While we’ve made some good progress, there is still more work to do to fully honor our commitment to our veterans. As home to a large number of wartime veterans, I’m hopeful Secretary McDonald’s visit will give him an even better understanding of the unique needs of veterans in Hawai‘i so we can continue to improve care for them all, especially those recovering from the physical and psychological wounds of war.”
Following the meeting, Senator Schatz, a member of the Senate Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee said, “Through legislation, funding, and congressional oversight, the VA has made important progress in improving care for our veterans.”
Patients at the VA Medical Center were waiting 145 days to receive care in 2014. That number has since dropped to 10 days, according to the VA.
Senator Schatz supported legislation to improve accountability at the VA and provide veterans with the flexibility to seek care in their community if the VA is unable to provide them with the necessary care in a reasonable time. The legislation also stated that a new VA facility on Oahu was necessary. President Obama signed the Bill into law in August 2014.
“Thanks to Secretary McDonald and Director Pfeffer, we are now on the right path to providing veterans the care they need in a timely manner. But there is still more work to be done, and I remain committed to ensuring that the veterans and their families who have made tremendous sacrifices in service to our great nation have the resources they need here in Hawai‘i,” said Schatz.
The group also spent time Monday touring the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Unit at the Spark M. Matsunaga VA Medical Center.