This morning, on the Friday before Veterans Day, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie hosted a State of the VA press conference at the White House. The Secretary outlined the successes VA has made in 2019, and offered a glimpse of what Veterans can expect to see moving forward.
The video (above) begins at 22:07. The highlighted remarks include:
- VA’s budget is now the largest in its history, and VA is authorized to increase the number of employees to 400,000.
- Recent studies show that VA now meets or exceeds private sector care when it comes to quality and access. We achieved this success while seeing more patients than ever before.
- We’ve efficiently implemented the MISSION Act, which gives Veterans permanent choice to seek medical care outside VA when VA can’t provide what Veterans need, when VA is too far of a drive, or when it’s in their best interest.
- Early next year, we will start rolling out a new unified health record that’s shared by VA and DoD. What it means for Veterans is this: any doctor, nurse, pharmacist or lab worker that you visit won’t have to guess at your medical history. They’ll have access to a single record that will take into account everything that happened to you since the day you enlisted.
- By working with local partners, 78 communities across this country have effectively ended Veteran homelessness, along with three states: Connecticut, Delaware and Virginia.
- Veteran suicide prevention. This is a problem our nation has lived with for more than a century. But thanks to President Trump, we are on the road to acting on it. Under the President’s PREVENTS Initiative, we are meeting to come up with a nationwide plan to finally make progress toward reducing these tragic events. We need everyone’s involvement because while 20 Veterans die by suicide each day, 60% of them have no current connection to VA at the time of this last tragic act. And we are working to help everyone realize that anyone make a difference—by being someone who truly listens to Veterans share their stories and struggles.
The Secretary also noted that next week is VA’s “Week of Weeks,” that, “This is the week we honor the 41 million Americans who have put on the uniform since the first shots were fired at Lexington in April 1775.”
History—both national and personal—is a recurring theme for the Secretary. You can read more on this in his recent op ed, Let History Guide Us on Veterans Day, here: https://www.riponsociety.org/article/let-history-guide-us-on-veterans-day/