(WASHINGTON) – The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) today applauded Sen. Akaka (D-HI), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, for introducing the proposed Veterans’ Medical Personnel Recruitment and Retention Act of 2008, to address key staffing issues within the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). The bill, S. 2969, is aimed at making the VHA the “employer of choice” for medical professionals, increasing its ability to be competitive in actively recruiting and retaining quality personnel.
“Sen. Akaka’s legislation gets to the heart of the critical staffing needs facing frontline employees in the Veterans’ Health Administration. A recent study noted that as many as 300,000 returning service members may be battling forms of post-traumatic stress and an additional 320,000 have suffered a traumatic brain injury while deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. These veterans need to know that we are here for them and that we can provide for them,” said J. David Cox, a retired VA nurse and national secretary-treasurer of AFGE. “This legislation will go a long way in helping frontline employees meet their needs.”
In the face of a national nurse shortage the VHA must be able to attract and retain employees in all nursing positions, and support current employees who wish to pursue a VA nursing career. The proposed legislation addresses these critical areas by strengthening the process for setting nurse locality pay, limiting mandatory overtime to true emergencies, lifting the pay caps for licensed practical nurses and certified registered nurse anesthetists, providing part-time nurses with increased work place protections and increasing educational loan assistance.
AFGE looks forward to discussing these and other provisions in the bill at the Committee’s May 21st health care legislation hearing.