WASHINGTON – In what's being called a major victory for all military veterans, President Donald Trump has signed into law the first meaningful legislation that will help all those who have served this country.
The VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protect Act of 2017, which was championed by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and supported by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Florida), gives the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Dr. David Shulkin, the ability to recoup bonuses awarded to employees who are found to have engaged in misconduct, and reduce the pensions of VA employees found guilty of felonies related to their employment at VA.
The measure ensures that VA employees who are terminated will not remain on the VA payroll while appealing their terminations. It will also increase protections for whistleblowers to help make certain that they are not retaliated against for speaking up about wrongdoings at the department.
In a Facebook post following the signing, Rubio stated:
Today the president signed into law my bill, the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act. This is a bipartisan bill that will give the VA secretary the power to fire bad employees, and also protect whistleblowers who come forward. It will help ensure our military men and women receive the quality health care they deserve.
"So many great Veterans Service Organizations across the country supported this legislation and I am grateful for their help in getting it passed and signed into law. We’ve been working hard on this for years, so this was a great day for our country’s heroes."
Concerned Veterans for America launched a massive grassroots effort to garner support for this bill, holding events across the country, making hundreds of thousands of phone calls to Congressional offices and launching online ads targeting all lawmakers to support it.
“Every veteran receiving care at VA facilities will now know that those entrusted with their care can be held responsible for their actions. This accountability bill gives Secretary Shulkin the authority to immediately fire any employee found guilty of wrongdoing before they can endanger the health and safety of more patients," said CVA Florida Coalitions Director Diego Echeverri. "Establishing accountability is an important first step in fixing the toxic culture at the VA. We thank President Trump for signing this bill and Senator Marco Rubio for boldly championing it. We look forward to continuing to work with this administration and both sides of the aisle to address the many challenges the VA still faces.”
CVA says the President's signing of this legislation is a major victory for veterans across the country.
“Veterans have been waiting for this day for years. Until today, the VA Secretary has not had the necessary authority to discipline or fire bad department employees quickly. This historic bill is a significant step forward in the fight to correct the toxic VA culture and get veterans a step closer to the care they deserve," added CVA Executive Director Mark Lucas.