U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Armed Services and Budget Committees, released the following statement after meeting with Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald to discuss challenges facing Virginia veterans, including issues with disability benefits and health care wait times.
“I had a very positive meeting with Secretary McDonald this morning to talk about a number of concerns I’ve heard from veterans across Virginia and ask how I can be helpful to the VA’s mission through my service on the Senate Armed Services and Budget Committees. I voiced my concerns over long wait times at the Hampton VA and at VA hospitals across the country, the backlog in disability benefits claim adjudications, and a culture at VA hospitals that many veterans see as unwelcoming. Secretary McDonald was very forthcoming about these challenges and what he is doing to tackle them. To reduce wait times at the Hampton VA, which currently holds the unacceptable nationwide record for longest primary care wait times, the VA is bringing on additional primary care physicians and health care providers as well as adding more examination and treatment rooms.
“Since Secretary McDonald took office, the agency has been moving in the right direction, and I’m hopeful the steps he outlined today will drive the wait times further down and reduce the backlog of disability claims. I’m optimistic we will continue to see improvements at the VA under his leadership as the veterans bill Congress passed last year is implemented. I will remain in close contact to ensure our veterans are receiving the prompt, high-quality care they have earned.”