(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) today introduced a bipartisan bill to address the crippling workforce shortages at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and improve health care delivery for the nation’s veterans.
There are currently 45,000 staff vacancies at the VA. Approximately 38,000 of those positions are responsible for delivering front line care. The VA also faces a high turnover rate of medical staff for higher-paying private sector positions and challenges recruiting qualified staff in rural areas.
The Senators’ Better Workforce for Veterans Act will improve the VA’s ability to recruit qualified medical professionals while incentivizing employees to keep working at the VA.
“We must empower the VA to hire the very best doctors, nurses and front line medical staff so this nation can live up to the promises we made to those who served,” said Tester, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “Workforce shortages have plagued the VA all across this nation and fixing it requires putting politics aside to do right by Montana’s and America’s veterans.”
“Veterans in Kansas and across the nation continue to face far too many challenges when it comes to accessing the care they deserve,” said Sen. Moran, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans’ Affairs and Related Agencies. “I am pleased to partner with Senator Tester in introducing legislation to strengthen the VA’s ability to recruit, hire and retain the qualified medical professionals needed to serve our veterans. This bill will provide increased access to care through the VA for our nation’s heroes, especially those who call rural or highly rural communities home.”
The Better Workforce for Veterans Act will do the following:
- Create a VA-wide database for vacant and hard-to-fill positions.
- Expand successful partnerships that bring recent graduates, veterans and private-sector employees to the VA.
- Cut red tape to allow the VA to hire Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists.
- Provide funding and flexibility to hire dynamic regional and local VA leaders.
- Survey why employees choose to leave the VA.
“The Department of Veterans Affairs must have the ability to quickly hire high-quality health care providers and support staff in order to provide veterans the health care and services they have earned," said VFW national legislative director Carlos Fuentes. "The VFW proudly supports the Better Workforce for Veterans Act and thanks Senators Tester and Moran for their leadership in addressing VA’s staffing shortages."
“AMVETS applauds the introduction of the Better Workforce for Veterans Act which would improve oversight, and the current systems in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to enable sufficient recruitment, hiring, and retaining of well-trained staff,” said Joe Chenelly, AMVETS National Executive Director. “We fully support this measure and believe that it would benefit VA in providing the top-notch care that veterans earned, and deserve.”
“I applaud your efforts to strengthen the ability of the VA to recruit, hire, retain and engage the talent it needs to accomplish its incredibly important mission,” said Max Stier, President and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service. “Vacancies in mission-critical and mission-support positions directly impact the services provided to our nation’s veterans. This legislation would address many of the challenges the department faces in fillings these critical jobs.”
More information about the Better Workforce for Veterans Act can be found online HERE.