Senators Lankford, Inhofe Meet with VA Deputy Secretary in OKC
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OKLAHOMA CITY, OK — Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) today met with Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) Sloan Gibson at the conclusion of Gibson’s stakeholder meetings at the Muskogee VA hospital and the Oklahoma City VA hospital, which began on Thursday. Following the meeting, Lankford, Inhofe, and Gibson held a press conference where all three reaffirmed their commitments to improving the quality of care at Oklahoma’s VA medical facilities. Inhofe and Lankford also shared next steps for their legislation, the Veterans Affairs Accountability Act (S.2554).
“I appreciate the first-time visit to our state from Veterans Affairs Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson and I’m pleased that the new Director of the Oklahoma City VA Health Care System Kristopher Vlosich has finally been named,” said Senator Lankford. “We look forward to working with Director Vlosich to ensure that our veterans in Oklahoma receive quality care. We also have assurances from Deputy Secretary Gibson that the new Director at Muskogee will be named very soon.
“The men and women who serve in uniform have sacrificed to keep us safe and protect the freedoms we enjoy every day. We will make sure that the promises to them and their families are kept. Oklahomans are incredibly grateful for the men and women who faithfully serve veterans every day, but we also lock arms with them to help the Department of Veterans Affairs fix their problems. Hiring the right leadership and updating processes will help bring the VA in line with the expectations of our veterans and fellow Oklahomans.”
“I appreciate Mr. Gibson’s visit at the request of the Oklahoma delegation,” said Senator Inhofe. “Today, he promised to us that the department will soon have new, permanent leadership put into place at both major VA medical centers in the state, to include the new appointment of Kristopher Vlosich to be the new Director at the OKC VA Health Care System,” said Inhofe. “As I shared with Gibson, just in the past year my office has documented more than 1,000 calls from veterans regarding the poor care they are receiving at these two hospitals. I have also worked several individual cases with VA Sec. Bob McDonald and regional VA leadership that has resulted in multiple investigations and private meetings with VA leadership and veterans, medical staff, and providers. The work continues, and we will keep pressing until Oklahoma’s veterans are confident in the care they are receiving at our VA medical facilities. In the Senate, Lankford and I are committed to getting S.2254 moved through the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee as soon as possible. The feedback given at the VA meetings the past two days only further affirms that we need to empower regional VA leadership with the ability to partner with outside entities to investigate their facilities and quickly address employees that are not acting in the best interest of our nation’s veterans.”
On February 12, Inhofe and Lankford introduced the Veterans Affairs Accountability Act (S.2554), legislation that would expand authority at the VA Department to allow directors of Veterans Integrated Services Network (VISN) chapters to remove or demote any VA employee within their network whose performance warrants such action and to authorize VISN directors to contract with an outside entity to conduct investigations of their VA medical facilities. The legislation would also direct a comptroller general report on the implementation of the Choice Program created by the 2014 VA reform bill.