News Releases

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Isakson Recognizes One-Year Anniversary of 'VA MISSION Act'

Highlights implementation of Veterans Community Care Program

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, delivered the following speech on the Senate floor to highlight the implementation of the Veterans Community Care Program one year after the VA MISSION Act was signed into law:

“As chairman of the Veterans’ Committee, I’ve had a great experience over the last few years….

“When we got here four years ago in the Senate and took over this committee, the VA was a mess. Veterans’ services were not being met. There was story after story after story of veterans not getting appointments, the wrong tooth being pulled, the wrong leg being set, the wrong disease being treated. Lots of hospitals that had sanitation problems, just a whole lot of things.

“And I said, ‘Well, what have I gotten myself into?’ Because I came here to go on that committee to try and help our veterans get a better round of health care.

“So we set our minds, all of us, … and said, ‘We’re gonna make this right. We’re gonna go on a mission. Our mission is to make the VA work – make it work for our veterans. We’re not going to take no for an answer.’

“So you know on the sixth day of June, a week and a half ago, we all celebrated the 75th anniversary of D-Day. But you know, it was also the first anniversary of renewed VA, of a VA on a mission.

“I’m proud to tell you now that in the first anniversary of the VA MISSION Act, which passed last year, we have less complaints, more compliments, better reserves, better outcomes, and we’re working toward seeing that we have the best possible health care we can have for our veterans.

“So I’m glad to join Senator Ernst and the other senators who will speak to talk about the promise of the VA system now being met, because those who have sacrificed and risked their lives for us deserve to get the health care they want.

“And we’re doing it by applying the right type of principles and the right type of can-do attitude.

“The care in the community, which is a major portion of the VA MISSION Act, was the most important part. Here in the community, we’ve basically put together all services to make health care accessible to our veterans.

“We were having a real problem with veterans getting appointments within 30 days of making the appointment. We were having trouble with veterans who live more than 40 miles from a VA hospital or VA community-based outpatient clinic emailing to get appointments in the system. We had problems with certain rare diseases and difficult problems from a time of war period which we’re in today, with IEDs and things like that, to really get the right doctor to the right veteran at the right time.

“And then we had the problem of the matter of America being a country that’s spread out all over the place. The 48 contiguous states, Montana to Florida, a lot of doctors have to be utilized to be able to give care to the veteran. Same thing with Hawaii. Same thing with Alaska.

“But we put the whole thing together in a care in the community package, which started last year and is now in full swing. And I’m proud to tell you … we didn’t have a complaint in the first week after its implementation.

“We took the mistakes we made a year ago and put the answers in place and solutions in place. We did everything we could to make our mission a winner for the veterans, and we did.

“So I’m here today to join my other colleagues who are going to speak about the VA MISSION Act and about our veterans. And we’re very proud that we took the challenge to see to it that something we had promised years ago to our vets worked and worked better than it’s ever worked before. And we’ll continue to equal that pledge in the years to come.

“For we know no greater obligation than to those who served our country in the military. Our obligation to see to it that what they were promised when they joined is what they get when they’re in the veterans’ status. As long as I serve in the United States Senate and as chairman of that committee, I’m going to remain committed, and remain on a mission, to see to it we make those realities for all our soldiers.”

The VA MISSION Act, landmark legislation authored by Isakson and signed into law in 2018, improves the way the VA delivers health care by streamlining the department’s community care programs to remove bureaucratic obstacles to care in the community and ensure veterans receive efficient, timely and quality care. On June 6, the VA implemented the new Veterans Community Care Program, which you can read more about here.

Watch Isakson’s full remarks here.

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The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is chaired by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., in the 116th Congress. Isakson is a veteran himself – having served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966-1972 – and has been a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs since he joined the Senate in 2005. Isakson’s home state of Georgia is home to more than a dozen military installations representing each branch of the armed services as well as nearly 700,000 veterans.