Photo Courtesy of Sen. Schumer’s Office
“When when we get back to Washington this week I will be making an all-out push to lock in new federal dollars for the VA so they can use the dollars to fill these jobs before vets’ care really suffers,” Sen. Schumer promised.
By Forum Staff
More than 45,000 U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs jobs are unfilled, according to a recently released VA report and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who said on Sunday that he will be spearheading a new push to fill the most critical jobs, deliver new federal dollars to VA health care and then hold the agency “accountable to action.”
Schumer said he worries that vets—including the 800,000 that call the Empire State home—could be waiting for months to receive both critical and routine care.
The VA released data on vacancies as required under the MISSION ACT on Aug. 31. The department reported a total of 45,239 overall vacancies. Within the overall number of vacancies, 40,456 are in the Veterans Health Administration. New York claims more than 1,800 of these vacancies, the majority of which are in New York City and Long Island, Schumer noted.
Under the senator’s plan, the upcoming Senate Appropriations Bill would include a new surge of fed dollars for in-house medical care at the VA—roughly $750 million. The surge would bring the total appropriation for the VA to almost $50 billion. On Sunday, Schumer said that he is demanding the VA use these funds to devise a plan to fill the vacancies and report the progress to Congress.
“The point is a simple one: our veterans should not have to fight a war with the VA to receive the kind of health care they both need and deserve,” Schumer added. “To know that there are forty-five thousand critical jobs, most in the Veterans Health Administration, unfilled is unacceptable and demands immediate action. That is why when we get back to Washington this week I will be making an all-out push to lock in new federal dollars for the VA so they can use the dollars to fill these jobs before vets’ care really suffers. And I will hold them to this demand, especially if they are to receive this surge in dollars.”
Schumer also noted that the American Legion has voiced concern over the large number of vacancies and suggested that “the shortage of employees can lead to overworked staff, poor patient experiences and lower quality of care.” According to the veteran’s organization, exemplary patient care within the VA care network has been shown to decrease the risk of suicide. Additionally, it surveyed veterans about their experience at the VA: 54 percent of surveyed veterans “stated that the process of getting mental health care was burdensome, and 49 percent stated that it was not easy to schedule an appointment.” Moreover, 77 percent of veterans said that the VA needed to improve veteran care.