Senator Hassan Secures Key Commitments for NH Priorities from VA Nominees During Nomination Hearing
During Questioning, Senator Hassan Discusses the Importance of Mental Health Care for Veterans and Improving Accountability at the VA after Whistleblower Case at White River Junction VA Medical Center
WASHINGTON – During yesterday’s Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing for nominations to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) secured key commitments on supporting veterans’ mental health care and improving VA accountability. Senator Hassan also raised the recent whistleblower allegations of misconduct at the White River Junction VA Medical Center.
To watch Senator Hassan’s questioning, click here.
Senator Hassan pushed VA Deputy Secretary nominee Donald Remy to commit to prioritizing the mental health of the approximately 200,000 service members who transition to civilian life each year. Mr. Remy discussed the importance of supporting veterans’ mental health and looking at Senator Hassan’s bipartisan bill, the Solid Start Act, which strengthens a VA program to promote communication with veterans after they first leave active duty.
“As I talk with veterans in my home state of New Hampshire, they talk to me a lot about the fact that when they first transition out of civilian life, they’re not sure who to go to for help or what options are open to them. So I think that focus on affirmative outreach is going to be really important, so I appreciate your commitment to that,” said Senator Hassan.
Senator Hassan also pushed Mr. Remy to create a culture of accountability at the VA, citing the recent whistleblower complaint at White River Junction Medical Center involving allegations of serious misconduct by a doctor.
“Senator, you said the key word: Culture. And the Secretary has made clear that a culture of accountability is a key component of the Department of Veterans Affairs. And that I believe firmly in. Accountability is the lifeblood of any good functioning organization and we need to make sure that we are focused on that... So if confirmed, Senator, I will speak to this issue frequently to make sure that I can drive home that culture,” said Mr. Remy.
Senator Hassan continued her push for accountability during her questioning of Maryanne Donaghy for Assistant Secretary of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection, citing the White River Junction case and asking, “How will you work to safeguard whistleblowers from retaliation and change the VA’s culture in this area?” In her response, Ms. Donaghy highlighted her three goals of leading the office with integrity, providing whistleblower protection, and cultivating a culture that encourages employees to speak up and make good change.
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