President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed legislation allowing for more and faster investigations of Department of Veterans Affairs facilities by permitting nongovernment groups to inspect them.
The bill, titled the Enhancing Veteran Care Act, would allow regional VA officials to enter into contracts with accredited nonprofits to identify and report deficiencies at VA hospitals. It’s the latest move this year in a larger effort by the VA and Congress to bring accountability to VA workers.
“Unfortunately, the VA hasn’t always met the standard of health care that our veterans deserve,” Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., one of the bill sponsors, said in a written statement. “The Enhancing Veteran Care Act will help ensure our veterans receive quality care by giving senior officials at the VA regional level the tools to hold people accountable.”
The VA Inspector General’s Office and the Government Accountability Office are already tasked with investigating VA facilities. But Inhofe and other congressional lawmakers criticized those organizations for the slow pace of their investigations and delays in the VA following up on their recommendations.
In a statement, Inhofe asserted reports from VA inspector general investigations “have not matched the reality on the ground.” He said the new law will be a tool for medical center directors and other local VA officials.
“The directors have the best perspective of what is going on at their facilities,” Inhofe said.
Before entering into a contract, regional VA officials must notify their supervisors in Washington, the VA inspector general and the Government Accountability Office, the bill states. Nonprofits chosen by the VA must be qualified to assess and accredit medical facilities.
The legislation had bipartisan support. It passed the Senate in November with unanimous consent, and the House approved it earlier this month with a vote of 423-0.
In April, Congress passed another bipartisan bill with the purpose of bringing accountability to the VA.
The VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 speeds up the process that the VA uses to discipline, suspend and terminate poor-performing workers and created an accountability office within the agency’s Washington headquarters.
Every once in a while, we run across a photo in The Times-Picayune archives that's so striking that it begs a simple question: "What in the name of Momus Alexander Morgus is going on in this New Orleans photograph?" When we do, we've decided, we're going to share it — and to attempt to answer that question.
Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces control the monitor of their drone at their advanced position, during the fighting with Islamic State's fighters in Nazlat Shahada, a district of Raqqa. (Reuters/Zohra Bensemra)
MUSCAT (Reuters) - The United States should keep arming and aiding the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) following the planned U.S. withdrawal from Syria, provided the group keeps up the pressure on Islamic State, a senior U.S. general told Reuters on Friday.
Long before Tony Stark took a load of shrapnel to the chest in a distant war zone, science fiction legend Robert Heinlein gave America the most visceral description of powered armor for the warfighter of the future. Forget the spines of extra-lethal weaponry, the heads-up display, and even the augmented strength of an Iron Man suit — the real genius, Heinlein wrote in Starship Troopers, "is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it, like your clothes, like skin."
"Any sort of ship you have to learn to pilot; it takes a long time, a new full set of reflexes, a different and artificial way of thinking," explains Johnny Rico. "Spaceships are for acrobats who are also mathematicians. But a suit, you just wear."
First introduced in 2013, U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) purported to offer this capability as America's first stab at militarized powered armor. And while SOCOM initially promised a veritable Iron Man-style tactical armor by 2018, a Navy spokesman told Task & Purpose the much-hyped exoskeleton will likely never get off the launch pad.
"The prototype itself is not currently suitable for operation in a close combat environment," SOCOM spokesman Navy Lt. Phillip Chitty told Task & Purpose, adding that JATF-TALOS has no plans for an external demonstration this year. "There is still no intent to field the TALOS Mk 5 combat suit prototype."