Two weeks ago, U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and I toured the Jackson VA Medical Center and met with officials in our regional office. Our goal was to ask tough questions and obtain commitments from VA leadership that veterans are receiving the proper care that they deserve.

It has become very clear since our visit in Mississippi that the VA is broken across the country.

A report released yesterday by VA inspectors found 1,700 veterans were waiting to get appointments with doctors at a facility in Phoenix, Arizona.

Late into last night, members of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs blasted the VA officials, who were forced to explain why the department didn’t do more to stop medical centers around the country from toying with patient lists to cover up delays in getting veterans in to see doctors.

Veterans deserve better. I am committed to holding VA officials accountable. Today I signed a letter to Secretary Eric Shinseki asking for the VA to extend immediate care through private-sector doctors to any veteran who has waited too long for medical care. This letter also seeks to ensure that local and regional VA managers have no incentive to deny veterans access to care from private-sector doctors.

The vast majority of employees in the VA health system are committed to ensuring that our veterans receive the best care possible. But we have to make certain that the bad apples are weeded out.

Mississippi was blessed to be represented by one of the greatest veteran advocates this country has ever seen — Sonny Montgomery. It is my aim to help end any and all mistreatment of veterans, and to continue to uphold his legacy as we move forward.

God Bless,

Gregg Harper
Member of Congress