Dear President-elect Trump,
When you take office, you'll inherit a Department of Veterans Affairswith serious systemic challenges. There are insurmountable medical appointment wait times, despite receiving more than $10 billion for the Veteran Choice program. The Veterans Crisis Line rolls calls over to a contracted call center that places some veterans contemplating suicide on hold for nearly 20 minutes, which is extremely detrimental because 20 veterans commit suicide each day. Your administration will also need to address a records management nightmare, reconciling nearly 2 million active records of veterans who are believed to be deceased, providing a plan for equitable relief for the family members of thousands of veterans who died waiting for care and rectifying unresolved system errors that continue to deny nearly 30,000 Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans healthcare benefits.
These and other VA problems have lingered for decades at the VA because of bureaucratic malfeasance, a culture that prides itself on a lack of accountability and an environment where employees are routinely pressured to falsify reports about the quality of healthcare at the request of management officials.
In the past, falsified information in these reports have been submitted to Congress and repeated in speeches delivered by President Obama to veterans organizations. I am confident some of these reports have already been shared with your transition team. This unscrupulous behavior not only impacts veteran access to care, it also obstructs congressional oversight and will surely hinder your administration's efforts to reform the organization.