(WASHINGTON) – The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) today responded in support of the Wounded Warrior Commission’s recommendations to improve care at the nation’s Veterans Affairs (VA) and Department of Defense (DoD) medical facilities.
AFGE called on all those involved in the military and veterans’ health care process to take the proposed recommendations further by providing guaranteed funding and encouraging increased employee participation. The President’s Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors which was charged with examining care provided to U.S. service members released its report calling for “fundamental changes” in the two departments’ processes.
“The Commission’s report highlights many of the longstanding issues at both the VA and the DoD medical facilities. It is the sincere desire of every VA and DoD clinical professional to provide injured service members an opportunity to recover and reestablish their civilian lives,” said John Gage, AFGE national president.
To make this goal a reality, everyone involved in the process must act with a sense of urgency to implement the recommendations listed in the Commission’s report, including providing appropriate training on complex health needs, such as traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as maintaining responsible staffing levels for frontline employees.
AFGE has repeatedly reported that veterans’ health care was being jeopardized as a result of the VA’s current funding process, which requires the department to receive discretionary funding from Congress each year. The discretionary funding process handicaps the VA from effectively planning for its future budget needs and forces the department to engage in crisis-based spending and delayed hiring of needed nurses and doctors.
“Chronic budget shortfalls and financial uncertainty put veterans in jeopardy of facing serious inequities in their level of care,” said, J. David Cox, AFGE national secretary-treasurer and former VA nurse for over 25 years.
Veterans are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from complex physical and mental injuries making the need for immediate care critical.
“The failure of this country to provide anything but exemplary medical care from start to finish for its service members is absolutely unacceptable,” added Gage. “It is urgent that immediate action be taken to provide the best possible medical system for our American heroes.”
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 700,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.