Past VA Leaders Line Up in Support of Landmark VA Legislation Being Pushed by Isakson, Tester

Seven former VA secretaries, administrator write to Senate leaders urging passage of VA MISSION Act; ‘We believe this bipartisan legislation to be critical to [the VA’s] ability to effectively deliver on the needs of this generation’s veterans and the next’

WASHINGTON – Seven former heads of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today wrote to U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Jon Tester, D-Mont., chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, as well as to Senate leadership, urging the Senate to take up and pass “historic” legislation to improve care and services at the VA.

This week, the Senate is voting on the John S. McCain III, Daniel K. Akaka and Samuel R. Johnson VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks (MISSION) Act of 2018, or VA MISSION Act for short.

The VA MISSION Act includes some of the most significant reforms proposed to-date to improve the VA’s current healthcare delivery system and help provide veterans with more choice and fewer barriers to care. It builds on legislation previously introduced by Isakson and Tester to consolidate and improve VA community care programs. The legislation also includes provisions to improve VA’s ability to hire high-quality healthcare professionals, expand VA caregiver benefits to veterans of all eras and establish a process to evaluate and reform VA’s existing facilities to best serve veterans.

The letter was sent today by former VA administrator Max Cleland and former VA secretaries Anthony Principi, Jim Nicholson, James Peake, Eric Shinseki, Robert McDonald and David Shulkin – all former heads of the department from both Republican and Democrat past administrations.

The letter, sent to Isakson and Tester along with Senate Majority Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Schumer, reads, “As those privileged with leading the department charged with carrying out Lincoln’s vision of caring for those who ‘have borne the battle,’ each faced with challenges to improve the execution of VA’s critical mission on behalf of a grateful nation, we believe this bipartisan legislation to be critical to its ability to effectively deliver on the needs of this generation’s veterans and the next.”

After the VA MISSION Act passed the House by an overwhelmingly bipartisan margin on May 16, the former VA leaders call on the Senate to pass the legislation this week to send it to the president’s desk before Memorial Day “as a fitting tribute and commitment to all who have worn the cloth of the nation.”

The VA MISSION Act has received broad support from leading veterans groups that represent millions of veterans in the United States. A group of 38 veteran and military advocacy organizations wrote to the House and Senate in support of the VA MISSION Act. Read a copy of the letter here.

Both the White House and Acting VA Secretary Wilkie have announced support for the bill.

A copy of the letter is available here.