March 20, 2001
Magda Lynn Seymour
Diane S. Witiak
(202) 639-6419

Veterans' Care Needs an Infusion of Funding & Staff

Alma Lee, President of AFGE’s Council of Veterans Affairs Locals, is coming to Washington, D.C., to address the union’s concerns for the care and well-being of our nation’s veterans.

“The DVA employees who heal, treat, care for, bathe and feed veterans and maintain DVA facilities strive mightily to keep the promises made to veterans by our government,” Lee will state. “I must tell you, however, that even we won’t be able to keep these promises without additional staff and resources.”

Criticizing President Bush’s budget, Lee will note that the proposed 4.5 percent increase for DVA’s 2002 budget “is not enough to cover medical care inflation. Further, the President’s budget would not even maintain an already shaky status quo funding level for DVA.”

AFGE will also address the Bush Administration’s recent directive that five percent of all jobs listed on the DVA FAIR Act inventory must be given to contractors or subject to public-private competitions. “Because DVA considers virtually every single job in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) as exempt from public-private competition under OMB Circular A-76, this directive will mean that DVA will simply contract out the work of some 9,000 VHA employees—many who are veterans themselves—without letting them compete for their jobs.”

“It is shameful and wrong that DVA would contract out the work performed by veterans without giving them a chance to keep their jobs or using a process that acknowledges their status as veterans,” Lee will add.

In its conclusion, AFGE will emphasize the need to fund veterans’ health care at a baseline next year of $22.3 billion, hold DVA management accountable for proper staffing levels—both in the Veterans Benefits Administration and the Veterans Health Administration—and stop the contracting out of patient care support services as well as require DVA to contract in work when contractors fail to perform or are not cost effective.

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