Tag Archives: VA

Number of Homeless Veterans Rises For First Time In 7 years

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Homeless Vets

Homeless tents are dwarfed by skyscrapers on Dec. 1, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

“MILITARY TIMES”

“The number of homeless veterans across America increased in 2017 for the first time in seven years, when government officials began their nationwide push to help impoverished former service members.

The estimated number of homeless veterans dropped from more than 74,000 individuals in 2010 to fewer than 40,000 in 2016. But in June, VA Secretary David Shulkin said he no longer saw the previous goal of zero homeless veterans as a realistic target for his department.”

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“The increase reflects estimates from last January, before President Donald Trump took office and any of his new housing policies were put in place. The annual point-in-time count from Housing and Urban Development officials found roughly 40,000 homeless veterans at that time, an increase of nearly 600 individuals from the same mark in 2016.

It’s the first setback for efforts to help homeless veterans since 2010, when then-President Barack Obama made a public pledge to “end veterans’ homelessness.”

The effort was paired with big boosts in funding for community intervention programs at both VA and HUD and saw some immediate results. The estimated number of homeless veterans dropped from more than 74,000 individuals in 2010 to fewer than 40,000 in 2016.

“I think what we learned in this situation is that being able to reach zero is not necessarily the right number,” Shulkin told Military Times. “There is going to be a functional zero, essentially somewhere around 12,000 to 15,000 that despite being offered options for housing and getting them off the street, there are a number of reasons why people may not choose to do that.”

The slight increase in veterans’ homelessness matches national trends. HUD officials said that for the first time since 2010, the overall homeless population increased in America, up about 1 percent from 2016 levels to nearly 554,000 homeless people.

And, similar to the national numbers, most of the increases in the veterans homeless population came from the West Coast. California and Oregon combined saw a rise of nearly 2,500 new homeless veterans.

Meanwhile, the southeast of the country — Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida — saw a decrease of almost 800 homeless veterans.

Of the 40,000 homeless veterans, almost 25,000 of them are living in temporary facilities. But that leaves more than 15,000 without any reliable shelter.

The impact of Trump administration policies on those numbers won’t be seen until late next year, when details of the January 2018 HUD point-in-time count are released.

But in recent months, homeless advocates have expressed concerns with VA plans to convert funds dedicated to outreach and assistance efforts to general purpose money, with broader authority for regional directors over how to use it.

In a letter to Shulkin in October, officials from the National Coalition of Homeless Veterans said they objected to “any conversion of special purpose homeless program funding for any purpose,” calling it potentially “catastrophic” to progress made in recent years by siphoning money away from homeless priorities.

But VA spokesman Curt Cashour said the goal of that move is designed to give local officials more flexibility.

“VA intends to realign funding from a number of programs, including our permanent supportive housing program (grants),” he said. “These programs are currently managed at VA central office in Washington, D.C., and this move gives control and management of resources to local VA facilities.”

“We have heard from many of our facility directors that they know their communities and the veterans they serve better than anyone else, and we agree.”

https://www.militarytimes.com/veterans/2017/12/06/number-of-homeless-veterans-nationwide-rises-for-first-time-in-seven-years/

 

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Innovative Program Allows Disabled Veterans to Live at Home

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“CBS 6, WTVR-TV  Richmond, VA”

“More than 2,000 veterans are enrolled in the program nationwide.

Veterans enrolled in VDHCBS control their own program by using a flexible budget to hire family members, friends, or neighbors to deliver care and services.  Those services can range from home care aides to help maintaining their property.”


“MECHANICSVILLE, Va. — Local veterans, their families, and federal leaders came together at the Mechanical American Legion Post Thursday to celebrate an “innovative” program that gives disabled veterans the ability to control their own care.  The Veterans-Directed Home and Community Based Services (VDHCBS) program allows disabled veterans to live in their own homes instead of nursing homes.

Acting U.S. Health and Human Services Director Eric Hargan was in attendance.  More than 2,000 veterans nationwide are enrolled in the program nationwide.  Locally, the program is run by Bay Aging and McGuire VA Medical Center.

With more 700,000 veterans living in Virginia, state and federal officials have worked to expand the program.  Starting Dec. 1, the VDHCBS program will be offered to veterans at Hampton VA Medical Center.

Chesterfield resident Lauri Roger’s son Daivd is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force.  David Rogers was paralyzed and suffered a severe brain injury when he was 22 years old, and requires near constant care.  Lauri Rogers said after years of nightmare experiences with other veteran service programs, VDHCBS provided their family with trustworthy care givers, like David’s home aide, Nadiyah.

“The vet-directed program is the first one that afforded us the ability and flexibility to try to return to a form of normal family life,” Lauri Rogers said.”

‘Innovative’ program allows disabled veterans to live at home

 

 

Veterans Administration Has $1 Billion Unexpected Funding Shortfall

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Image: delmarvapublicradio.net

“THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC”

“Under repeated questioning, VA Secretary David Shulkin acknowledged the department may need emergency funds.

The Department of Veterans Affairs was scolded by both parties over its budget Wednesday as lawmakers scurried to find a fix to an unexpected shortfall of more than $1 billion that would threaten medical care for thousands of veterans in the coming months.

“We would like to work with you,” Shulkin told a Senate appropriations panel. “We need to do this quickly.”

At the hearing, lawmakers pressed Shulkin about the department’s financial management after it significantly underestimated costs for its Choice program, which offers veterans federally paid medical care outside the VA. Several questioned Shulkin’s claim that the VA can fill the budget gap simply by shifting funds — without an emergency infusion of new money — without hurting veterans’ care.

“The department’s stewardship of funds is the real issue at hand,” said Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., chair of the Appropriations panel overseeing the VA. He faulted VA for a “precarious situation” requiring a congressional bailout.

Shulkin cited unexpectedly high demand for Choice and defended President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget request as adequate, but allowed that more money may be needed.

“On financial projections, we have to do better,” he said. “We do not want to see veterans impacted at all by our inability to manage budgets.”

Shulkin made the surprise revelation last week, urgently asking Congress for help. He said VA needed legal authority to shift money from other VA programs.

His disclosure came just weeks after lawmakers were still being assured that Choice was under budget, with $1.1 billion estimated to be left over on Aug. 7. Shulkin now says that money will dry up by mid-August. He cited excessive use of Choice beyond its original intent of using private doctors only when veterans must wait more than 30 days for a VA appointment or drive more than 40 miles to a facility.

Skeptical senators on Wednesday signaled they may need to move forward on a financial bailout.

In a letter Wednesday to the VA, Moran joined three other GOP senators, including John McCain, in demanding more detailed information from VA on what fix is needed.

“Unless Congress appropriates emergency funding to continue the Veterans Choice Program, hundreds of thousands of veterans who now rely on the Choice Card will be sent back to a VA that cannot effectively manage or coordinate their care,” the senators said. “We cannot send our veterans back to the pre-scandal days in which veterans were subjected to unacceptable wait-times.”

VA is already instructing its medical centers to limit the number of veterans sent to private doctors. Some veterans were being sent to Defense Department hospitals, VA facilities located farther away, or other alternative locations “when care is not offered in VA.” It also was asking field offices to hold off on spending for certain medical equipment to help cover costs.

Congressional Democrats on VA oversight committees have also sharply criticized the proposed 2018 budget. Shulkin, for instance, says he intends to tap other parts of the VA budget to cover the shortfall, including $620 million in carryover money that had been designated for use in the next fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

The budget proposal also seeks to cover rising costs of Choice in part by reducing disability benefits for thousands of veterans once they reach retirement age, drawing an outcry from major veterans’ organizations who said veterans heavily rely on the payments.

Shulkin has since backed off the plan to reduce disability benefits but has not indicated what other areas may be cut.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., told Shulkin that it sure sounded like VA needed money.

“You’re defending this budget, but your job is to defend veterans,” she said. “It seems to me if the administration makes the request, it will be better served.”

The VA’s faulty budget estimates were a primary reason that Congress passed legislation in March to extend the Choice program beyond its Aug. 7 expiration date until the money ran out, which VA said would happen early next year. At the bill-signing ceremony with veterans’ groups, Trump said the legislation would ensure veterans will continue to be able to see “the doctor of their choice.”

The department is now more closely restricting use of Choice to its 30-day, 40-mile requirements.

The unexpectedly high Choice costs are also raising questions about the amount of money needed in future years as VA seeks to expand the program.

Earlier this month, Shulkin described the outlines of an overhaul, dubbed Veterans CARE, which would replace Choice and its 30-day, 40-mile restrictions to give veterans even wider access to private doctors. He is asking Congress to approve that plan by this fall.”

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/nation/2017/06/22/veterans-affairs-facing-1-billion-shortfall-because-unexpected-choice-program-costs/418787001/

 

Military’s Health Records Maze

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VA Records Maze

“MILITARY TIMES”

“More than $1 billion has been invested in medical record interoperability in recent years but with mixed results.

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said he is open to adopting the new military electronic health record system for his department but stopped short of promising that will happen this summer.

“We’re exploring all options,” Shulkin told members of the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday. “It’s a highly complex issue … if there was an easy solution here, it would have been made already.”

The comments came in response to criticism from lawmakers related to the ongoing health records saga, a point of tension for the departments for decades.

“We’ve been giving you all a lot of money, and it’s not fixed,” said Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla. “You could be the best VA secretary of all time if you solved this one problem.”

At issue is the seamless medical transition of active-duty troops and reservists to VA care. Veterans have long lamented missing records, repeated exams and frustrating inefficiencies with the dueling department systems.

Last year, defense and VA officials certified that their Joint Legacy Viewer now allows physicians in both departments to share and read those critical health records, eliminating many of those problems.

But the separate back-end systems still prevent VA doctors from editing or updating veterans’ old military records, and vice versa. Shulkin acknowledged that “it is not the complete interoperability we would hope for.”

Earlier this year, officials with the Military Health System announced plans to shift to the new GENESIS system for all personal military health records, allowing easier access for both patients and doctors.

Shulkin said he hopes to settle on a similar new system for VA this summer. He said a number of factors will go into that decision, including long-term viability of the new system, ease of transferability from old systems and interoperability with defense records.

But VA officials have long been resistant to simply adopting the same IT systems as the military because of specific agency needs. Lawmakers pushed Shulkin to break that trend, but he would not commit to any system at the hearing.

He did say that “VA needs to get out of the software development business” and will be looking for more private sector “off-the-shelf” options for health record systems, to minimize the workload of maintaining any future health records systems.

“It’s not an easy project in a single hospital, much less a whole system the size of VA,” he said.

Shulkin’ appearance before the committee was billed as a conversation about next year’s budget request, but so far only a few details of that plan have been released publicly. A full budget is expected to be released by White House officials later this month.

The department would see a 6 percent boost in programming funds under the “skinny budget” outlined by President Trump, one of only a few federal agencies looking at a funding boost under his plan.

Committee members told Shulkin to expect many more questions about the health records issue after the fiscal 2018 specifics are released”

http://www.militarytimes.com/articles/va-dod-health-records-2017-search

 

 

VA Secretary Robert McDonald’s Advice To Vets

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veterans-affairs-secretary-bob-mcdonaldcnn                                   Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald(CNN)

“MILITARY TIMES’

“In my mind, there is no single human endeavor that leads to greater transformation than education,” McDonald said.

The secretary also recommended that the student veterans look for careers that continue the service that they began in uniform.

“What more important blessing could there be than to be able to have a positive impact on the life of another person? What a positive impact you can have.”

McDonald said he became the VA secretary to do just that. But he expressed frustration with the politics inherent in the role.

“When I listen to the political dialogue, I sometimes get incensed,” he said. “Should we privatize the VA, you know, so the healthcare companies of America can make more money? Should we ask veterans to go to private sector doctors who may not know anything about post traumatic stress?”

McDonald dedicated a large section of his speech to giving veterans four pieces of advice:

  1. Consider your life’s purpose: “Please think about what your purpose is in life, and you will find that if you do that, it will animate the rest of your life,” McDonald said. He added that it’s OK to change your mind a few times. “But you’re living your life every single day, wouldn’t it be good to lead it in a certain direction, toward purpose?”
  2. Set big goals: “As you think about your purpose, think about your goal and make sure your goal is big enough to overcome all your fears,” he said. McDonald recalled how he was unable to become an Eagle Scout because he was afraid to swim. But he passed several much more difficult swimming tests while attending West Point. “Why? Because I had a goal that was bigger than my fear.”
  3. Work for an organization that shares your values and purpose: “Find a company that has a purpose congruent with your own,” McDonald said. “That’s where you’re going to be spending the majority of your waking hours, and you want to make sure you’re achieving your personal purpose, while also achieving the corporate purpose.”
  4. Never stop learning: “I’ll tell you a secret, but you’ve got to promise me you’ll keep it secret: What differentiates those who succeed in business … is maintaining that ability to learn. You’ve got to learn new things all the time,” McDonald said. The most important things students learn in school aren’t any particular facts or equations. It’s how to learn. And learning should not stop once you graduate, he added. “Things are going to change and you need to change too, and the only way to do that is to continue learning.”

http://www.militarytimes.com/articles/va-secretary-robert-mcdonalds-advice-to-vets

 

 

Military Health Records System Launch Delayed

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“MILITARY TIMES”

“The new MHS GENESIS system — a $4.3 billion upgrade to the military’s current records system — was scheduled to be launched at two military bases this December.

Defense officials are delaying the initial roll out until early 2017.

Program officials announced Tuesday that it will be launched at a single base — Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington — in February, with several other locations to follow next June. They blamed the delay on compatibility and technical issues that emerged during early testing.

“The time we are investing in the program now will help us ensure success in the future, providing the best possible user experience to our beneficiaries and health care providers from day one,” said Stacy Cummings, program executive officer for Defense Healthcare Management Systems.

She said that the multiyear deployment schedule for the new health record system allows some flexibility in individual site launches and benchmarks without jeopardizing the overall goal of militarywide use of the system in 2022. She also said the delay will not change the price tag of the new system.

Officials did not characterize the delay as a setback, but instead part of the expected process in putting a new system in place.

Whether Congress sees it that way remains to be seen. Lawmakers have been critical of the Defense Department and VA for past failures to develop a shared electronic health records system, leading to continuity of care problems for troops as they transition from active-duty to veteran status.

President Barack Obama in 2009 promised a better, more interoperable system for both departments, but results thus far have been slow.

Cummings said that officials from both departments certified earlier this year that they have met congressional requirements for shared systems and information mandated by the end of this year, and will be able to better coordinate health records in coming years as the new MHS GENESIS system is implemented”

http://www.militarytimes.com/articles/mhs-genesis-delayed-feb-2017?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Early%20Bird%20Brief%2010.12.2016&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

New Veteran’s Prescription Drug Law

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Vets and Addiction

Image: aforeverecovery.com

“MILITARY TIMES”

“A new law designed to curb opiate and heroin abuse.

It includes tougher prescription guidance for Veterans Affairs medical facilities nationwide.

Sought by the family of Marine veteran Jason Simcakoski, who died of an accidental overdose at the Tomah, Wisconsin, VA Medical Center in 2014, the changes are designed to strengthen VA pain management guidance and training, improve prescription oversight and promote alternative therapies.

Under the bill, VA must ensure that its prescribers are schooled in the latest practices and that all medical facilities stock overdose countermeasures such as naloxone and establish pain management teams to oversee opioid prescriptions for veterans with non-cancer-related pain.

“The bill recognizes that too often, these drugs have been used inappropriately and ineffectively, and because they are so powerful and so addictive, this inappropriate use is very dangerous,” said Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., a sponsor of the veterans provisions.

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which passed the Senate on Wednesday by a vote of 92-2 and is expected to be signed by President Obama, authorizes $181 million in new funding for a range of measures designed to fight the national opiate abuse epidemic.

The bill requires the VA to ensure health care providers can access and provide information to state prescription databases. It also gives patient advocates more independence by providing an avenue for reporting patient concerns outside the hospital’s chain of command.

It promotes alternatives to incarceration for those with substance abuse issues, to include grants to expand veterans treatment courts, and it broadens the number of health care providers who can oversee patients prescribed medications for opioid addiction by allowing some nurse practitioners and physician assistants to facilitate treatment.

Simcakoski died Aug. 30, 2014, in the Tomah hospital’s short-stay mental health unit from “mixed drug toxicity,” having taken 13 prescribed medications, including several that cause respiratory depression, in a 24-hour period.

Staff psychiatrists had added new medications to Simcakoski’s lengthy list of prescriptions in the days preceding his death and according to Baldwin, both Simcakoski and his family members had questioned staff whether the treatment was appropriate.

Veterans also told a Center for Investigative Reporting journalist that distribution of narcotics was so rampant at Tomah, they nicknamed the place “Candy Land” and the center’s chief of staff Dr. David Houlihan the “Candy Man.”

According to Baldwin, the patient advocacy measures in the new legislation were most important to the Simcakoski family.

“In Jason’s case, he and his family questioned the treatment. But nevertheless, the patient advocate answered to the prescribing physician and the hospital chief of staff. That’s not independence,” she said.

According to a 2014 VA inspector general report, the Veterans Health Administration issued 1.68 million prescriptions for opioids to 440,000 outpatients, or 7.7 percent of all VA patients, in 2012.

The IG found that 13.1 percent of those prescribed opioids had an active substance use issue and 7.4 percent of patients taking opioids also had a prescription for benzodiazepine — a combination that can cause respiratory depression and death.

In 2012, the Center for Investigative Reporting published an analysis showing that VA prescriptions for opiates such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, methadone and morphine have increased 270 percent over the past 12 years.

The investigation also found that on average, VA has issued more than one opiate prescription per narcotic-prescribed patient for the past two years.

Baldwin said the Simcakoski family worked hard to make sure the VA provisions were included in the final bill, and she praised their efforts.

“This bill may have a real impact on the chances of [a veteran] becoming addicted,” Baldwin said. “My goal is to prevent Jason’s tragedy from happening to other veterans and their families.”

http://www.militarytimes.com/story/veterans/2016/07/14/anti-addiction-bill-includes-va-measures/87083870/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=DFN%20EBB%207.15.16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

Heal the V.A. (But First, Do No Harm)

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VA Hospital, Minneapolis, MN

VA Hospital Minneapolis

VA Hospital – Minneapolis, Minnesota

“NEW YORK TIMES”

“For all its problems, the V.A. is not failing in the area that matters most.

It delivers excellent, integrated health care to a population with many challenging medical needs. The overall quality of its clinical care is high, as good as and often better than what the private sector can offer.

And for veterans with complex, combat-related wounds — spinal-cord injuries,traumatic brain injuries, severe burns, amputations, post-traumatic stress disorder, or the combination of grave injuries called polytrauma — there is no substitute for the breadth and specialized competence of the V.A.

Two years after a scandal engulfed the nation’s veterans hospitals, with reports of long waiting lists, cooked appointment books and patients dying while they waited for care, a commission created by Congress has delivered a plan to transform the Veterans Affairs Department over the next 20 years.

Its 300 pages, released on Wednesday, are a chronicle of failings at the Veterans Health Administration, the part of the V.A. that handles medical care. The debate over the report’s many judgments and prescriptions is just beginning. But the commission’s ambitious work brings two immediate thoughts to mind.

First is a fresh awareness of the danger of quick fixes. After the furor of 2014, which forced the V.A. secretary, Eric Shinseki, to resign, Congress swiftly passed a law and gave the V.A. 90 days to carry it out. It offered a seemingly straightforward solution to long-delayed appointments — allowing patients who have to wait more than 30 days or live more than 40 miles from a V.A. hospital or clinic to see private doctors.

But that hastily created program, whose management was outsourced to private contractors, with confused and conflicting rules, only made things worse. “In execution,” the commission wrote, “the program has aggravated wait times and frustrated veterans, private-sector health care providers participating in networks, and V.H.A. alike.”

That leads to the second thought: the danger of jumping to the wrong conclusions. The V.A. is troubled, no question. But the commission properly stops short of recommending a solution dear to ideologues on the right, which is to dismantle one of the largest bureaucracies in American government — one with a critically important mission — and hand the wreckage to the private sector.

For all its problems, the V.A. is not failing in the area that matters most: delivering excellent, integrated health care to a population with many challenging medical needs. The overall quality of its clinical care is high, as good as and often better than what the private sector can offer. And for veterans with complex, combat-related wounds — spinal-cord injuries,traumatic brain injuries, severe burns, amputations, post-traumatic stress disorder, or the combination of grave injuries called polytrauma — there is no substitute for the breadth and specialized competence of the V.A.

Those who delight in accounts of big-government ineptitude and inefficiency will find lots to savor in the commission report. The commission acknowledges that V.A. care can be inconsistent, with the lack of access to doctors being the agency’s worst management failure. It recommends overhauling the agency’s leadership structures, reforming eligibility requirements, investing in buildings and updating information technology, among other things.

But its primary recommendation is to greatly expand access by creating “integrated, community-based” health care networks that all veterans can use, bolstering the Veterans Health Administration with doctors and hospitals from the Defense Department, other federally funded providers, and local ones.

It’s unclear how that new public-private agglomeration is supposed to work, but getting those devilish details right is crucial. Veterans’ advocacy groups are right to be concerned that shedding patients and services to the private sector may ultimately weaken the V.H.A.

Given the egregious gap between the need for medical care and the supply of doctors and providers, there is clearly a role for qualified private health care providers to pitch in. But privatizing the V.A. — throwing wounded veterans upon the vagaries and mercies of corporations, co-pays and premiums — is no solution.”

Heal the VA

See Related Topic:

Why does the United States veterans administration have it’s own health care facilities and provide its own healthcare?

VA Regional Director Dismissed

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“FOX NEWS”

“VA said preliminary results of two federal investigations at the Cincinnati VA Medical Center warranted the agency to remove Jack Hetrick from his job.

The Veterans Affairs regional network director, in charge of overseeing Indiana veterans while being investigated in Cincinnati, abruptly retired Thursday after the VA recommended he be removed from his position.

“We are committed to sustainable accountability,” Solan Gibson said in a statement, deputy secretary of Veterans Affairs. “We will continue to use VA’s statutory authority to hold employees accountable where warranted by the evidence. This is simply the right thing to do for Veterans and taxpayers.”

Indiana lawmakers had raised serious questions this week about why Hetrick continued to oversee VA facilities in Indiana during the ongoing investigation.

Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, isn’t satisfied with the decision.

“In classic VA fashion, instead of taking real action they’ve allowed a bad employee to take early retirement and continue to receive benefits for irreprehensible actions. There is no justification for forcing bad bureaucrats to retire instead of showing them the door. Once again, this just proves there is still a long way to go until we see true accountability at the VA.”

In a statement Thursday, Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) said:

“I commend the VA for taking this important step to ensure our veterans remain the department’s top priority.”

Rep. Luke Messer (R-Ind.), whose office has received complaints about the Cincinnati medical center, was critical of the VA’s handling of Hetrick:

“Allowing Mr. Hetrick to retire—likely with full benefits and a pension— is not holding him accountable. It’s absurd that a VA investigation revealed Mr. Hetrick was involved in misconduct and possibly broke the law, yet he wasn’t fired. It’s past time for the Obama Administration to end this cycle of dysfunction at the VA. Our veterans and our taxpayers deserve better.”

Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) said he has been personally in contact with VA Secretary Bob McDonald throughout the investigation.

“I’ve spoken with Secretary McDonald about the situation at the Cincinnati VA, and I expect the Department of Veterans Affairs to continue taking aggressive action to hold their leaders accountable.”

Reports of misconduct inside the Cincinnati VA medical center prompted the two federal investigations, addressing allegations of cost-cutting affecting quality of care and claims that drugs were improperly prescribed.

Tied into the investigation was Hetrick, who oversaw VA facilities in Indiana, including Fort Wayne, Marion, and Indianapolis, as part of a nationwide consolidation effort. As of October, Hetrick was in charge of overseeing the care of 500,000 veterans throughout the lower peninsula of Michigan, Ohio, Northern Kentucky and Indiana.

But in light of the federal investigations launched earlier this month, Hetrick’s oversight authorities had been removed only in Cincinnati.

An initial investigation by WCPO-TV in Cincinnati reported investigators were looking into Cincinnati’s Chief of Staff, Dr. Barbara Temeck, and accusations she prescribed highly-addictive pain medication to the wife of Hetrick.

The VA announced Thursday, officials removed Temeck from her current position as well, “pending appropriate administrative action.”

The VA said it found “substantiate misconduct” by both Hetrick and Temeck “related to Temeck’s provision of prescriptions and other medical care to members of Hetrick’s family.”

Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, echoed Messer and Walorski’s concerns.

“A VA investigation has already substantiated that both employees committed serious misconduct in violation of multiple VA regulations and quite possibly the law, yet both of these individuals are still collecting taxpayer-funded paychecks.”

The VA said a potential criminal investigation could follow.”

VA regional director overseeing Hoosier veterans abruptly retires after officials find ‘substantive misconduct’