WASHINGTON—Some 4,300 Veterans Affairs (VA) workers have been demoted, fired, or suspended since President Donald Trump took office, Vice President Mike Pence told a room of veterans caregivers on Nov. 26.
Pence said that proves the president has "taken decisive action to restore accountability to the VA," a statement that drew loud applause and cheers from the audience.
The numbers aren't limited to the VA's health care operations, though. They include agencies such as the National Cemetery Administration, the Office of Information and Technology, and the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection (OAWP).
Robert Grier, who is a caregiver for his veteran father, has experienced the sluggishness of the VA firsthand.
"You have to be patient," he said of his experience at the H.J. Heinz campus of the Pittsburgh VA. "It's so busy, you wait in line for the parking garage for an hour."
He doesn't blame the system, though. He says all humans are flawed, and the systems that humans create are likely to be flawed as well. The doctors he sees are under enormous pressure from overwhelming caseloads, but he says that when he does get his father to treatment, "they do a great job."
Grier has also experienced the effect of another Trump-signed bill, called the VA Mission Act. That's aimed at cutting wait times for veterans to be able to get care outside the region where they live. Once, while on vacation in Florida, his dad had a medical episode that required him to get care immediately. Grier called the VA and was told there wasn't a VA facility nearby, but that he could go to a local hospital and his father's care would be covered.
"They assessed him, they gave him treatment—it took a couple of hours until we were finished—and it was fantastic," he said.