VA Secretary says department making fundamental changes

Published: Feb. 17, 2015 at 12:51 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 27, 2015 at 12:51 AM EST
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Six months after being named VA Secretary, Robert McDonald has fired 900 people who weren't doing their jobs.

Roughly 100 senior leaders are also under investigation by the Inspector General and the Department of Justice, according to McDonald. However, no one at the Dorn VA today was able to provide information on how many of those cuts came from South Carolina.

Nationally, McDonald says wait times for veterans are down 18 percent, the backlog of disability claims is down 61 percent, and veteran homelessness has decreased by 33 percent.

Despite those statistics, homelessness is still prevalent in this area.

Surveys indicate 14 to 17 percent of the Midlands' homeless population have served in the military. An early study in 2014 showed nearly 600 veterans in the area without permanent addresses. McDonald has come under fire for the failure of one homelessness resource.

A recent audit by the VA's Inspector General found that thousands of veterans who called the National Homeless Veteran Call Center in 2014 never received assistance.

"Well, it's not just trickling down," McDonald said. "We're making fundamental changes in the department in terms of leadership. We have held accountable about 900 employees who are no longer with us that were with us before I became secretary."

A healthcare inspection report by the Inspector General's office stated in December that the Dorn VA still needs to fill key leadership roles and improve security surrounding patient information.

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