The reality is that change will not come overnight to the VA. It has taken years and several administrations to get us to this point. But this is our moment to take action. Iím disappointed that the president seems intent on thinking small when looking at this problem ó getting past the next news cycle and eschewing sweeping reform. Clearly, VA personnel have become too comfortable in the way things are and have been. Itís time for a shake-up in personnel and policy that will usher in the standard of care that our veterans deserve.
House Veteransí Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., has advocated for a voucher system as a way to guarantee accessibility to care for veterans who have languished on waiting lists. Why not consider this approach? Complacency is the enemy of creativity and innovation, and we need leaders like Miller who are willing to think outside the box to get the job done on behalf of veterans who desperately need solutions.
I donít pretend to have all the answers, nor a silver bullet that will solve this issue in one fell swoop. I understand this is a longstanding issue that will take plenty of hard work to correct.
But the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I worry that the president lacks the fire in the belly to aggressively tackle this issue and implement reforms that will work. Today, Iím continuing to search for new and different answers to ensure we have a health care system for our veterans that lives up to the standard they have earned. I hope for their sake the president will do the same.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.