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Begich Meets with VA Chief to Talk Accountability, Solutions for VA Care

Commits to Using Seat on Conference Committee to Strengthen VA

U.S. Senator Mark Begich issued a statement following his meeting today with Sloan Gibson, acting secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA).

“I called for today’s meeting because I wanted to hear directly from Acting Secretary Gibson about his plans to improve conditions at VA facilities across the nation. We discussed the need to pass the Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014 which is currently being reviewed by the House and Senate Conference Committee. I assured Secretary Gibson that, as a member of the Conference Committee, I would do everything in my power to ensure that the VA has the resources it needs and the systems in place to successfully deliver care to our veterans. That’s why I co-sponsored the Putting Veterans Funding First Act (S. 932 ) so that the VA is funded on a two-year budget cycle. This Advance Appropriations funding is desperately needed so that the VA can hire the staff it needs to give veterans the care they deserve. Because it is so critical for the VA to increase staffing levels, I’ve repeatedly urged the VA to assign U.S. Public Health Service Officers to help solve the staffing shortage. At today’s meeting I asked Secretary Gibson to pursue this recommendation.”

Begich used the meeting as another opportunity to emphasize the success of the Alaska VA programs, some of which are included in the current bill, and to praise the work of Alaska VA Director Susan Yeager who took over the role in March 2013.  At Begich’s urging, Acting Secretary Gibson committed to visiting Alaska in the near future.

Begich is a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans’ Affairs and is a strong advocate for veterans in Alaska and across the nation.

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