Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
The VA Doesn't Want You To Know Exactly How Short-Staffed It Is
The Department of Veterans Affairs waited until just before 5 pm on the Friday before Labor Day weekend to release eye-popping job vacancies data: the agency currently has a whopping 45,239 overall vacancies, 40,456 (89%) of which belong to the Veterans Health Administration.
Any veteran who's had to deal with insane wait times at their local VA medical center know that staffing at the agency has a direct impact on its ability to deliver effective care to patients, a subject that drew the ire of Montana Sen. Jon Tester, ranking Democrat on the Senate Veterans' Affairs committee, during an interview with the Washington Post back in April.
“It’s crippling our ability to deliver health care to our vets,” Tester said at the time. “ It’s effectively pushing veterans outside the system.”
But the new VA vacancy report, legally mandated under the recently-passed VA Mission Act to increase personnel transparency at the beleaguered agency, is disturbing for two reasons.
- Back in April, VA spokesman Curt Cashour stated that there were "more than 33,000 full-time vacancies as of early March," per the Washington Post, adding that the department "has added nearly 15,000 slots since Trump came into office." Given the well-documented problem with VA hiring and retention detailed in a December 2017 Government Accountability Office report, this makes the successes touted by the VA increasingly suspect.
- Dropping a legally required transparency report at 5 pm before a holiday weekend is what's known as a "Friday news dump," a move designed to avoid media attention surrounding potentially negative news stories. It's a classic DC public relations news: if you have to stand up and say something bad, try to do it when nobody's listening. It's also shady as hell!
To be clear, this is not a problem specific t0 the Trump administration: a 2015 analysis by USA Today found that, under then-VA Secretary Bob McDonald, the VHA alone boasted some 41,500 job vacancies for medical professionals, more than the number listed in the agency's Friday news dump.
That said, Trump did inform Congress on Thursday that he was canceling the 2.1 pay raise for civilian federal employees set for January. Chances are that won't do wonders for recruiting and retention, especially for high-demand medical specialists — and that means things are only going to get worse before they get better for patients who rely on the VA for care.
A U.S.S. Manchester, CL-83, hat firmly tucked on his head, John Ronney, pierced the collar of his granddaughter, Jennifer Rooney's new rank during a special pinning ceremony at Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune on Sept. 25.
By Rooney's side was his son and Jennifer's father Robert, a Navy veteran. Together, three Navy veterans brought together for military tradition.
"They are the two people who taught me everything I needed to know about the Navy," said Jennifer.
CAMP PENDLETON — The military prosecution of a Coast Guardsman accused of murder began Wednesday with a preliminary hearing at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.
Seaman Ethan W. Tucker, 21, was arrested August 28 after a seven-month Coast Guard investigation into the January death of Seaman Ethan Kelch, 19, who served on the same ship as Tucker— the Kodiak, Alaska-based high endurance cutter Douglas Munro.
ANKARA (Reuters) - President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday Turkey would press on with its offensive into northeastern Syria and "crush the heads of terrorists" if a deal with Washington on the withdrawal of Kurdish fighters from the area were not fully implemented.
Erdogan agreed on Thursday in talks with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence a five-day pause in the offensive to allow time for the Kurdish fighters to withdraw from a "safe zone" Turkey aims to establish in northeast Syria near the Turkish border.
President Trump stoked confusion Friday by declaring the U.S. has "secured the Oil" in the Middle East amid continued fallout from the Turkish invasion of northern Syria that he enabled by pulling American troops out of the region.
It wasn't immediately clear what the president was talking about, as there were no publicly known developments in Syria or elsewhere in the Middle East relating to oil. White House aides did not return requests for comment.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. State Department investigation of Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of state has found no evidence of deliberate mishandling of classified information by department employees.
The investigation, the results of which were released on Friday by Republican U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley's office, centered on whether Clinton, who served as the top U.S. diplomat from 2009 to 2013, jeopardized classified information by using a private email server rather than a government one.