Veterans Committee examines implementation of new policies at VA
Washington, D.C — Congresswoman Aumua Amata and other members of the Veterans Affairs Committee examined the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) efforts to implement the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017, often called the AMA.
This full Committee hearing built on the efforts late last month of the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, on which Amata also serves. The Committee is providing oversight following official reports from the Office of the Inspector General, which highlighted concerns about the ongoing implementation efforts.
“American Samoa’s Veterans face real challenges simply from distance, and any systemic problems in the VA would add another layer of obstacles,” said Aumua Amata. “The Inspector General has made sure the VA won’t be caught by surprise at these difficulties, and the VA must rise to this challenge.”
Specifically, the Committee is focused on concerns that the VA’s planning is insufficient, and could cause unnecessary delays or problems for Veterans as they attempt to access services during the transition. The VA is following the law in phasing in new policies meant to improve services in the long term, but the transition is coming under scrutiny, including VA workload, training, inadequate technology or lack of monitoring for errors.
The VA showed progress in updates in August and November, but Committee Chairman Phil Roe points out that the VA is also working with a list of 400,000 pending appeals.
“These reforms will help Veterans, but we don’t want anyone awaiting services during the transition,” said Congresswoman Amata. “I appreciate these thorough updates from the VA, and the timely reports from the Inspector General. Veterans will be better off because these concerns were highlighted at this point in the process.”