HOUSE PASSES MENG AMENDMENTS AS PART OF VETERANS AFFAIRS BILL

_CONGRESSWOMAN’S PROVISIONS AIM TO PROVIDE EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES TO
RECENTLY DISCHARGED SERVICE MEMBERS AND ADDRESS STAFFING SHORTAGES
WITHIN THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS _

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House of Representatives passed
legislation which includes two amendments authored by U.S. Rep. Grace
Meng (D-NY) that would provide employment opportunities to recently
discharged service members, and address staffing shortages within the
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Meng’s first amendment would require the Secretary of the VA to
establish a program that encourages members of the Armed Forces serving
as health professionals to pursue jobs with the Veterans Health
Administration (VHA) upon their discharge or separation from the
military.

The VHA, a component of the VA, is the largest integrated health care
system in the United States, providing care to millions of veterans
through VA medical centers, clinics and outpatient sites.

“As we all know, the VHA has existing shortages of health
professionals,” Meng said on the floor of the House during the chamber’s
consideration of her measure. “We also know that our service men and
women sometimes have difficulty transitioning back to civilian life
after serving. What could be better than having a service member with
health care training and experience transition into employment with the
VHA serving their brothers and sisters? Everyone wins with this
amendment.”

Meng’s second amendment seeks to assist the VA Secretary in filling VHA
positions for which there are severe staffing shortages.

Under current law, the Inspector General (IG) of the VA must issue an
annual report on which positions within the agency are severely
understaffed. The VA Secretary is then granted expedited hiring
authority to fill those positions. Meng’s provision permits the IG to
report on additional shortages than those currently allowed by law so
that the VA Secretary can fill those positions more quickly.

“Our veterans need the care that they have earned, and that they
deserve. They need it now. The first step in that endeavor is making
sure that VA staffing levels are adequate,” Meng also said on the House
floor.

Meng’s amendments passed unanimously by voice vote. Both were approved
as part of H.R.1367, a bill to help hire and retain physicians and other
employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs. H.R. 1367 passed 412 to
0.