Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, delivered remarks at a committee hearing on the State of VA Health Care with Acting Secretary Sloan Gibson. In her opening remarks, Murray continued her call to address the systemic problems at the VA in order to ensure veterans are getting the care and support they deserve.

Full Text of Senator Murray’s Remarks:

“Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this hearing. 

“As we all know, this is a critical time for the Department.

“VA is still struggling with major systemic problems, there are many vacancies in key leadership positions, and most importantly, veterans are still waiting too long for care.

“Secretary Gibson, as we discussed yesterday, I appreciate you stepping up during this crisis. 

“The Department needs strong leadership right now - because VA is facing serious challenges.

“Rob Nabors’ review identified several of these issues – which we have also been discussing here for some time.

“A corrosive culture has developed in the Department – one that is unworthy of VA’s many dedicated and talented medical providers who only want to help veterans.

“Management failures and a lack of communication is a problem at all levels of VHA. And VA needs more providers, more space, and  modern IT systems.

“As we continue to work in the conference committee to craft a final bill, I hope an agreement will be reached so we can send it to the President…

“And start making the changes needed at VA to get veterans into care, create transparency, and hold people accountable.

“The compromise bill will be an important first step.  As more reviews are done and more problems are found, we will need to take additional steps. 

“And while we continue working on these problems, we cannot lose sight of many other pressing issues. 

“Too many veterans still die by suicide each day, and sexual assault survivors still need help. 

“VA must continue to make progress toward the commendable -- and even more challenging -- goals of eliminating veterans homelessness and reducing the claims backlog.

“On a more positive note, Secretary Gibson, I appreciate your help in finally getting the money to build the Walla Walla State Veterans Home.   We have been working on this for a very long time. 

“Now, hundreds of veterans in the area will be able to access the long-term care they need.

“As I have said repeatedly here in this room -- when the nation goes to war, it also commits to taking care of the veterans when they return home. 

“Their needs are a cost of war, and we will provide for them – no matter what. 

“We know many veterans will need VA care for several decades to come. 

“Others will come to the VA for the first time many years after their service has ended. 

“So today I want to hear about solutions to these systemic problems, and smart ways to strengthen the VA for the long-term. 

“Because VA needs to be there for our veterans,  ready to help, right away, and every time.”