As governor and a former member of the 28th Infantry Division in the Pennsylvania National Guard, I am deeply troubled and outraged by the recent reports of significant negligence and systemic delays in patient care for our country’s veterans throughout the Veterans Health Administration. The substandard and delayed medical care for thousands of veterans, and manipulation and destruction of records to cover up those delays, is disgraceful and unacceptable.
As a nation, it is our duty and obligation to provide the best care and services possible to those who have served us.
I recently visited Boalsburg — the birthplace of Memorial Day — to honor those who have given their lives for our country’s freedoms. There, I saw Lt. General David Grange Jr., who served in the U.S. Army for more than 40 years. He fought in three wars, and among his numerous decorations are three Silver Stars, a Soldier’s Medal and a Purple Heart. I was reminded of how much he and his family have given to this nation — and all our military families have given — to keep America beautiful, strong and free. I also was sadly reminded how his own federal government has let our country’s veterans down.
As reports emerged from across Pennsylvania that hundreds of veterans are being denied or delayed access to health care through the VHA, I mobilized my administration to coordinate a statewide effort to reach veterans and ensure their issues are being addressed at the highest levels of government. I encourage you to visit our new website, vaconcerns.pa.gov, for more information.
Additionally, along with other governors from across the country, I sent a letter to President Barack Obama last week expressing our outrage at the actions of the VHA for failing our veterans.
While the president’s decision to accept the resignation of Secretary Eric Shinseki was a first step, we noted that this change is merely the beginning of numerous reforms necessary to protect and care for our nation’s veterans.
We made the following requests of the president as a start to addressing the monumental problems at the VA:
The Obama administration has the ability and power to right this wrong and put the health and welfare of our country’s veterans first. These brave service members have earned our gratitude and appreciation. I sincerely urge the president to agree with these requests and allow Pennsylvania, along with other states, to assist with this reform process.