IN ENGLAND YESTERDAY, FADED CELEBRITY BARRY O FELT THE NEED TO WEIGH IN ON THE ISSUE OF INDEPENDENCE FOR SCOTLAND.
BARRY O CAME OUT FIRMLY AGAINST IT.
REACHED FOR COMMENT BY THESE REPORTERS, BARRY O ADMITTED, "I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT SCOTLAND OR EVEN INDEPENDENCE, YOU KNOW? BUT LIKE I WAS TOTALLY FEELING BITCHY AND JUST WANTED TO BLOW OFF SOME STEAM."
WITH A "TOODLES," BARRY O QUICKLY SCAMPERED OFF.
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
Starting in the US, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America issued the following statement today:
CONTACT: Gretchen Andersen (212) 982-9699 or firstname.lastname@example.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
IAVA Applauds Bipartisan Senate Compromise to Begin Reforming the VA
As Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson admits 18 vets died while waiting for appointments in Phoenix, IAVA calls for presidential leadership and urges Congress to move forward with legislation
Washington DC (June 5, 2014) – Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the nation’s largest non-profit, non-partisan organization representing post-9/11 veterans and their families, today praised Senate leaders on both sides of the aisle for their bipartisan work on addressing critical access issues at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Earlier, Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Senator John McCain (R-AZ), one of two combat veterans in the Senate, announced a bipartisan deal that would address access and care issues for veterans within the VA system.
The compromise was announced the same day Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson addressed the ongoing VA scandal, saying that 18 veterans died while waiting for appointments with the Phoenix VA Health Care System.
On Monday, IAVA CEO & Founder Paul Rieckhoff, joined by IAVA veterans from across the country, unveiled eight steps the Obama Administration and Congress can take now to restore confidence in the Department of Veterans Affairs. Among the steps are recommendations from IAVA’s 2014 Policy Agenda. IAVA urged Congress and the President to enact all of the recommendations from the plan.
“Reforming the VA requires a bipartisan effort on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. We are very encouraged by the compromise forged by Senators Sanders and McCain,” Rieckhoff said. “Today’s progress shows veterans issues is the one thing that parties can come together on. We hope the Senate and House can move forward to enact legislation that will ensure veterans get the care and benefits they have earned. However, we still need the President to step up and take a more active role in restoring confidence within the VA and lay out a strategy for the way forward.”
Rieckhoff added: “Many of the provisions announced in today’s compromise are part of IAVA’s eight-part ‘Marshall Plan’ for veterans. The VA scandal is far from over. We urge Congress and the Administration to embrace all our recommendations. As the VA confirmed how severe mismanagement was in Phoenix, it is imperative that the men and women who served our country never have to wait for care.”
The legislation directly addresses accountability issues at the VA by allowing poorly performing SES employees to be immediately dismissed without pay while also establishing an expedited appeals process to discourage fraudulent dismissals. This legislation will also allow veterans to see providers outside the VA system if the wait times for appointments are too long or if the veteran lives more than 40 miles from a VA hospital or clinic. The need to address the VA's technological capabilities, particularly with scheduling, will also be evaluated through the establishment of a Tech Task Force. In addition to these access and accountability measures, this legislation also includes several other major provisions supported by IAVA’s 2014 Policy Agenda, including much needed major medical facility lease authorizations, in-state tuition for veterans using GI Bill benefits, and increased access to health care for survivors of MST.
NOTE TO THE MEDIA: IAVA leadership is available for interview. Press can email email@example.com or call 212-982-9699.
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org) is the nation's first and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and has more than 270,000 Member Veterans and civilian supporters nationwide. Celebrating its 10th year anniversary, IAVA recently received the highest rating - four-stars - from Charity Navigator, America's largest charity evaluator.
# # #
Jake Lefferman and John Parkinson (ABC News) quote Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Bernie Sanders stating, "We have a crisis on our hands. It is imperative that we deal with that crisis." Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee and, prior to that, she was Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (she still serves on the Veterans Affairs Committee). Her office issued the following:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Murray Press Office
Thursday, June 05, 2014 (202) 224-2834
VETERANS: Murray Statement on Deal to Address VA Accountability, Transparency
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, released the following statement after Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and John McCain (R-AZ) announced a path forward for a legislative compromise to address the serious accountability and transparency deficit at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“Today’s announcement is an excellent example of what Congress can do when we work together to put veterans first and work toward substantive solutions to the challenges they face. Finalizing this legislation is a critical step toward addressing some of the immediate accountability and transparency concerns plaguing the VA and fixing its deep-seated structural and cultural challenges.
“I will be working closely with my colleagues to build on this bipartisan momentum. These are not new problems and Congress must continue to take action on them, while addressing the inevitable issues that will be uncovered as ongoing investigations and reviews are completed.
“As we all know, there are serious problems at the VA that will not be solved through legislation alone or by simply replacing the Secretary. However, I am hopeful these steps will spark long-overdue change from the top down in order to ensure our veterans are getting the care and support they expect and deserve.
“I want to commend Chairman Sanders and Senator McCain for working in good faith to put veterans’ needs ahead of political differences.”
Press Secretary | New Media Director
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
Mobile: (202) 365-1235
Office: (202) 224-2834
Ed O'Keefe (Washington Post) points out that this bipartisan deal was unveiled less than a week after VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned and he writes:
Since Shinseki's departure, the department has reached out to all of the approximately 1,700 veterans that a Phoenix VA hospital placed on unofficial wait lists that hid treatment delays. Acting Secretary Sloan D. Gibson visited the Phoenix facility Thursday. The department is also facing a Office of Special Counsel investigation into allegations that officials retaliated against 37 whistleblowers, including some who tried to report actions related to the recent scheduling scandal.
Richard Simon (Los Angeles Times) adds that Senator Richard Burr, Ranking Member on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, has announced his support for the bipartisan deal and that:
As Congress ratcheted up its response to the VA scandal, the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday provided funding for the Justice Department to play a bigger role in the investigation of VA employees falsifying records to cover up long waits for medical care.
And the House Veterans Affairs Committee called a Monday night hearing that could shed new light on the scope of the VA mess. The panel asked for an update from the VA inspector general, who has been investigating 42 sites and issued an interim report last week that found a systemic problem nationwide in scheduling veterans for healthcare in a timely manner.
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