PHOENIX, AZ—The VA has announced the creation of a new committee that will help in “reorienting the department to better meet the needs of veterans.”
The announcement of the new committee was made by President Barack Obama during his recent visit to the Phoenix VAMC in which he touted improvements but also said that the administration knows “there is still more work to do.” The visit was the first by the president since the waitlist scandal broke last year at the facility.
The MyVA Advisory Committee (MVAC) will be composed of experts from the private, non-profit and government sectors. The group will meet multiple times per year and “will engage in periodic reviews to ensure the department achieves the goals of MyVA,” according to the agency.
“The committee will provide advice on competing short-term and long-range plans, priorities and strategies to improve the operational functions, services, processes and outputs of the department, and will also advise on appropriate levels of support and funding necessary to achieve objectives. Further, the committee will review implementation of recommended improvements and suggest any necessary course corrections,” the agency explained.
Meanwhile, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) said he was concerned that this effort is a “duplicative step.”
“The Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act, which the president signed last August, already mandates two top-to-bottom reviews of VA’s health care system,” he said.
On his part, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) called the president’s visit a “photo op” and said he was “unimpressed” by the announcement.
“The truth is that while thousands of Arizona veterans continue to experience unacceptable delays in VA care, the Obama Administration has been slow and reluctant to fundamentally reform VA operations, including implementation of the vitally important Choice Card program,” he said in a statement.
Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) called the President’s visit “long overdue.”
“While there have been some modest improvements, we must change the culture of the VA to put veterans first,” she said in a statement.