Yarmuth encouraged by actions of new VA Secretary - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Yarmuth encouraged by actions of new VA Secretary

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville Congressman John Yarmuth says he's encouraged by the bold moves being taken by the new Secretary of the Veterans Administration.

Yarmuth participated in the downtown Veterans Parade as hundreds lined Main Street to pay tribute to those who served our country in the armed forces. For the members of the AmVet Riders, it's a much different reception than the one they received coming home from Vietnam.

"I think this is just the greatest thing that ever was. I love it. I love it," said Vietnam Navy veteran Bruce Mullins.

"We get a lot more respect now than we did back then. We get a lot more respect," added Spanky Shaw, an Army vet.

But now these veterans are facing a different challenge - a scandal in the agency formed to serve them. There have been revelations that thousands of veterans endured lengthy waiting periods for treatment. In some VA Hospitals, some died.

On Monday, the new VA Secretary, Robert McDonald, announced a massive restructuring of the agency, including disciplinary actions.

Louisville congressman John Yarmuth says, so far, he like what he sees.

"Back in September, we actually passed legislation on a bipartisan basis to give the new Secretary a lot more discretion in how to handle employees who are guilty of these negligent acts. So I'm glad he's putting that authority to use," said Yarmuth.

While Yarmuth says he's encouraged by the new direction of the VA, he's still not happy with the lack of response by the agency to his concerns about Louisville's new VA Hospital property. Yarmuth wants to know why the property was purchased for $3 million more than the initial appraisal.

"We've asked for the House Veterans Affairs Committee to look into it as well, so hopefully we'll either get direct answers from the VA, or the committee will get them," said Yarmuth.

Getting answers, like McDonald's attempt to reform the agency, may take time.

"I'm encouraged, but he still says it's going to take him a year to reorganize. I think you fix what's wrong," said Mullins.

Louisville's VA Hospital says it has already made changes designed to eliminate long waits for treatment.

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