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.
The San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Chris Roys)
The Navy is investigating reports that a female Marine discovered a hidden camera in one of the women's restrooms aboard the USS Arlington, an amphibious transport dock that's currently on at port in Greece, NBC News originally reported.
It's been 30 years since an explosion inside the number two gun turret on the USS Iowa killed 47 American sailors, but for Mike Carr, it still feels like yesterday.
"I knew all 47 guys inside that turret because as part of the ship's policy we had rotated between all three turrets," Carr, who served as a gunner's mate in the Iowa's aft 16-inch turret, told Task & Purpose. "We all knew each other rather intimately."
On April 19, 1989, the day of the blast, the ship was preparing for live-fire training at Vieques, Puerto Rico Naval Training Range.
Carr was wearing headphones that allowed him to hear what the crews in the other turrets were saying.
"At 10 minutes to 10 a.m., somebody came over the phones and said, 'We're having a problem, Turret 2, center gun,'" Carr recalled. "Then approximately two minutes later, I recognized Senior Chief [Reginald] Ziegler, who was the chief in charge of Turret 2, yell into the phones: 'Fire, fire, fire! Fire in center gun, turret 2. Trying to contain it.'"
Then came the blast, which was so strong that it ripped the headphones right off Carr's head.
As a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and a newly minted second lieutenant, I felt well-prepared to tackle the challenges facing a junior field artillery officer in the U.S. Army. When the time came to leave the Army, however, I was much less prepared to make the transition into the yet-unknown civilian sector.
One of the primary issues facing veterans after we transition is that we lack the same sense of purpose and mission that we had with our military careers. Today, more than ever, our service members volunteer to put themselves in harm's way. They are defending our freedom across the globe and should be recognized as our country's true heroes. It's critical that employers educate veterans and provide viable options so we can make informed decisions about the rest of our lives.
The two-star general in charge of the roughly 15,000-strong 2nd Marine Division has turned micromanagement into an art form with a new policy letter ordering his Marines and sailors to cut their hair, shave their faces, and adhere to a daily schedule that he has prescribed.
In his "Policy Letter 5-19," Maj. Gen. David Furness lamented that he has noticed "a significant decline in the basic discipline" of troops he's come in contact with in the division area, which has led him to "FIX IT immediately," instead of relying on the thousands of commissioned and non-commissioned officers below him to carry out his orders.