Tester, Moran Push VA to Bolster Emergency Response and Supplies for Veterans

Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee leaders call on VA Secretary to ensure the emergency cache system is mission-ready

(U.S. Senate) – Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Ranking Member Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) are urging Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Denis McDonough to improve the use and management of VA’s emergency cache system to support veterans during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

“We write today to inquire about the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) emergency cache system, its efficacy during the COVID-19 pandemic, and your plans for the cache system moving forward,” the Senators wrote in a letter. “We appreciate how VA’s well-informed and sustained response to the COVID-19 pandemic helped save veteran lives and assisted civilian hospitals in need. In keeping with VA’s Fourth Mission, the Department must be prepared to handle national emergencies, both through the use of emergency caches and other available means, at any time.”

VA’s emergency cache system is a backup reserve of emergency medical supplies and medication designed to assist the Department or local and state partners in the event of interrupted supply lines during catastrophic events such as a natural disaster or public health emergency. 

In 2018, VA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report outlining issues with the emergency cache system and recommendations to serve as a reliable backup supply in the case of a national emergency. In 2021, the OIG released another report evaluating the emergency cache’s use during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, which found the system underutilized and outlined steps for VA to take to ensure the system operates at full-capacity moving forward. Tester and Moran underscored their concerns with the findings—including persistent expired supplies and low staff awareness of caches.

They continued, “We believe that if properly maintained and reported, the emergency cache system provides important reserves for VA facilities, and can help VA maintain its obligations to our veterans and the nation as a whole. We look forward to hearing how VA plans to improve its use and management of the emergency cache system, and how the Department foresees the role of the cache system moving forward.”

Read the Senators’ full letter HERE.