A union representing employees at the Department of Veterans affairs calls for reforms, pointing to survey results indicating a workforce stretched far too thin.
A major union representing employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs continues to criticize the agency—most pointedly over staff shortages highlighted in alarming findings from a recent survey of both employees and veterans served by them.
The survey included around 2,300 people total and showed personnel shortages and related problems at the agency—"shocking” problems, as characterized by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE).
“The results of this survey show that the staffing crisis at the VA is hurting our veterans,” declared Alma Lee, AFGE’s National VA Council president Alma Lee. “For too long, VA workers have been asked to do more with less. VA leadership must continue to work with its union partners to address this staffing crisis and ensure the VA is equipped to provide the critical, direct services our veterans earned and want.”
The combined results reflect very low confidence in the current VA staff situation. Fully 90% of those surveyed said VA facilities were short frontline staff. Moreover, 64% of VA employees surveyed pointed to vacant positions for which no recruiting appeared to be taking place.
Highlighting the unpopular results of high levels of outsourcing in recent years, 20% of VA staff surveyed reported they had shifted much of their work time, from performing “direct veteran care” instead to monitoring outsourced private-sector care. The union slammed this, seeing it as an inefficient diversion of time and effort, and faulted the resulting care situation as being “more expensive.”
An allied veterans advocacy organization and think tank, the Veterans Healthcare Policy Institute (VHPI), also bashed the agency over the survey’s harsh findings.
“These shocking survey results should be a wake-up call to Washington,” said the organization’s president and Vietnam War veteran, Paul Cox. “Rather than outsource care to the costly, less prompt, and unaccountable private sector, lawmakers must fund more VA positions and properly resource facilities. Only then can they honestly claim to support the nine-million veterans who rely on the VA’s world-class care.”
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