Employees with the Federal Department of Veterans Affairs say the agency needs to fill vacant positions. As Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Jill Sheridan reports, they rallied outside Indianapolis’ veteran’s hospital today on an issue the workers say impacts veterans’ health care.
The Veterans Affairs Secretary earlier this year said the VA needed to hire more than 45,000 positions to reduce wait times and improve care for veterans across the country.
A group of employees who rallied in Indianapolis claim less than 2,000 have been filled.
And organizer Sheila Simon says a recent Veterans of Foreign Wars survey indicates a majority of veterans would still prefer to receive care at the VA.
“They want to come to the VA because it’s a community where they feel safe and where they know they have brothers and sisters who know what they are going through,” Simon says.
Government workers union board member and veteran Arnold Scott says the lack of workers impacts care.
“You’ve got to fill those positions… they’re asking people to do more with less as always,” Scott says.
Scott says a program that allows veterans to access care outside of the VA system is not ideal.
“I get complaints and the complaint is that it takes longer to see someone in the private sector than if they went through the VA system,” says Scott.
A search of the VA’s website lists 68 open positions in Indiana. The VA didn’t respond to a request for a comment.
Indiana has more than 20 locations in the veterans health system including clinics, hospitals and counseling centers.