With VA accountability legislation signed into law, veterans hopeful for Department's future

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - A law veterans have been fighting for for decades is now on the books. President Trump signed The VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act in hopes of cleaning up the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Rick Weidman says he has been fighting for accountability in the VA since 1978.

“We are edging closer to accountability on the part of management,” said Rick Weidman, executive director of governmental affairs at Vietnam Veterans of America.

Weidman has called for accountability in the VA for nearly four decades. He says this new law will do just that. The law is meant to expedite the process for firing bad-acting VA employees, and protect those who expose them.

“The whole key in this has always been accountability. We believe the VA can work, but you’ve got to have managers who take those tools, pick them up and use them,” said Weidman.

He says the VA has been riddled with scandal for years with doctors mistreating patients and veterans being put on extremely long waitlists. Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL) is one of the bill’s co-sponsors.

“There are a lot of good people that are committed to our veterans that work within the VA. But the bad actors, the ones who are not there to help our veterans...they don’t need to be there anymore,” said Roby.

Some are concerned as to whether this law will actually accomplish the goal of a more accountable VA.

“What it does is make it really, really easy to fire people. And we know that when a government agency has the power to fire people, they fire people for all the wrong reasons,” said Jacque Simon, policy director at the American Federation of Government Employees.

She says she expects this law to have the opposite effect of what is intended.

“Anybody who raises his or her voice to tell the truth about what’s going on in terms of mismanagement will be fired on the spot, and essentially no way to appeal,” said Simon.

But opponents and supporters of this law agree that bad actors need to be ousted.