Alabama 2nd District U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, a member of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee, on Tuesday invited Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie to visit Alabama to visit the VA so that he could firsthand what is happening.
Wilkie was participating in an oversight hearing when Roby extended the invitation.
“We should want every single VA health care system in this nation to be the very best it can be for our veterans. But, at CAVHCS, we are unable to get simple things right, and it extends on to very egregious behavior… We should be giving veterans the best care in a timely fashion, and it just isn’t working,” said Roby “I am tired of getting status quo answers as to why CAVHCS continues to be one of the worst in the nation.”
She continued, “I would like to invite you to Alabama to visit the VA so you can see firsthand what is happening. This is not working. It is not the way it should be, and it is a huge disservice to our men and women who have served our country.”
Roby has been a longtime advocate for improving VA services and health care. During the committee hearing, she expressed her concerns with failing VA medical facilities, including the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System (CAVHCS) in Montgomery.
Find Roby’s full remarks, as prepared, below:
Good morning, Mr. Secretary, Dr. Stone. I’m not really sure where to begin other than to say that I am grateful for the opportunity to have you here today, and I’m grateful to be back on this subcommittee for this Congress.
The Central Alabama VA has continued to be one of the worst in the country. We had your Under Secretary for Clinical Health, Dr. Teresa Boyd, here two weeks ago. I’m not sure if you have had a chance to talk to her about our discussion.
But, it was specifically about VISN 7 and Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System, known as CAVHCS, and the facility’s current state. I’m not sure, Madame Chair, that my five minutes is enough for you to fully appreciate what’s been going on there for many years.
During my time in Congress, I have worked diligently with leadership at CAVHCS and VISN 7 to make sure that our veterans are receiving the best care we can give them.
As I said to Dr. Boyd, we don’t know each other well, but you will learn that I am very passionate about this issue, and I am very frustrated. I don’t understand why the VA works on a bell curve and why somebody always has to be at the bottom of the barrel with a one-star rating. We should want every single VA health care system in this nation to be the very best it can be for our veterans.
But, we’re unable to get simple things right, like just saying “hello” and greeting a veteran when they come in for their appointment to make them feel valued and like someone cares.
This extends to very egregious behavior, and I can give you some really specific examples, and I’d like the opportunity to do that so you can fully appreciate what has been going on in this health care system for many years. There’s a culture of complacency and gross mismanagement.
I want to be in the grocery store and have a veteran come up to me and tell me how wonderful their experience was at the VA – not to have to look into a man or woman’s eyes who has served our country honorably and see tears in their eyes because they have just flat out given up because they cannot get appropriate care.
We should be giving them the best care in a timely fashion, and it just isn’t working. So, I’m grateful for the opportunity, again, to be here with you today, but I am tired of getting status quo answers as to why CAVHCS continues to be one of the worst in the nation.
I am hopeful that you and I can cultivate a relationship so that you can fully appreciate and understand what is going on. I would like to invite you to Alabama to visit the VA so you can see firsthand what is happening. This is not working. It is not the way it should be, and it is a huge disservice to our men and women who have served our country.