WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, joined colleagues in a letter to Veterans Affairs (VA) Chief of Staff Peter O’Rourke outlining concerns about the consequences of VA’s hiring freeze for Ohio veterans seeking care and benefits from VA.
In a February memo, VA released new hiring guidelines that force managers to jump through additional bureaucratic hoops before hiring new staff. This limits the ability of VA to hire new employees and provide veterans the highest quality of care they deserve.
“We are very concerned with the process outlined in this memo, and the impact it will have on veterans seeking care and benefits at VA facilities across the country,” wrote the Senators.
The letter pressed O’Rourke on VA’s intended outcome of this new, stricter process for hiring staff. Brown joined the letter with Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI).
In the letter, the Senators requested the following information:
- Under this new process, how many days does it take to provide approval, or how much time has been added to the average completion time of a hiring package?
- How many current vacancies that require a waiver are occupations that have frequent contact with veteran patients or beneficiaries?
- How are you determining whether veterans are harmed or delayed in getting resolution of their issues based on these new processes?
- How have you communicated this policy to the field?
- Have you discussed this guidance with labor representatives?
Full text of the letter can be found here.
Brown is the longest-serving U.S. Senator from Ohio on the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.