January 14, 2009 – Murray invites Secretary-Designate Shinseki to visit Washington state veterans facilities
Calls for proactive approach to meeting long-term challenges, better care for women veterans, and warns against increased fees and co-pays for veterans
· Senator Murray’s Opening Statement
· Senator Murray asks about changing the culture at the VA
· Senator Murray asks about improving care for female veterans and invites Secretary-Designate Shinseki to visit VA facilities in Washington state
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) questioned Retired General Eric Shinseki, President-elect Barack Obama’s nominee to be the next Secretary of Veterans Affairs, about challenges facing the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Senator Murray, a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and an outspoken leader in fighting for veterans’ benefits and care, discussed changing the overall culture at the VA, improving care for women veterans, and working to make the VA a more proactive agency. Secretary-Designate Shinseki”s nomination is expected to be voted on by the full Senate as part of a package of Obama administration nominees on January 20th.
Changing the Culture
Senator Murray began her questioning of Secretary-Designate Shinseki by highlighting some of the major failures that the VA has attempted to downplay under the Bush administration and how he would work to change the culture at the VA.
“Over the past 8 years, the VA has developed a track record and culture of downplaying some potentially embarrassing internal issues,” said Senator Murray. “Whether it’s budget shortfalls or inaccurate suicide data, and this has come at the expense of the veterans we’re serving.”
Senator Murray went on to ask Secretary-Designate Shinseki how he will go about building a VA that “focuses on providing for veterans needs rather than avoiding public relations disasters.”
Listen to Murray’s question on changing the culture at the VA and Secretary-Designate Shinseki’s response.
Senator Murray also discussed improving care for women veterans. Senator Murray is the author of legislation that would expand and improve health care services to women veterans, particularly women who have served our country in Iraq and Afghanistan.