Sen. Reed expresses faith in new VA law

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – U.S. Sen. Jack Reed said Friday he supports the bill President Obama signed last week to let the Dept. of Veterans Affairs makes thousands of new hires – saying he hopes it will lead to progress and a better-working system.

The new law covers a number of issues related to the much-maligned department, including better accessibility to care and more flexibility to fire poor-performing employees. Obama signed the bill earlier this week, as the department was continuing to recover from months of scrutiny.

“This is to make the system work better,” Sen. Reed said. “In fact, I hope, given this authority, this will be self-correcting – that the managers and personnel will see this… and dedicate themselves to be more efficient and more effective.”

Under the new law, veterans who live further than 40 miles from a V.A. facility – or those who will have to wait excessively long for treatment – have the option to receive care at a civilian facility with the government footing the bill.

Reed said the new V.A. secretary, Bob McDonald, will use his military and corporate experience to avoid crossover issues.

“I think his managerial skills together with this new legislation are going to make a difference, but it’s one of those things that you have to keep insisting upon progress and monitoring for progress,” Reed said.”

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