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Sen. Kaine Introduces Bill to Address Chronic VA Workforce Shortages

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Tim Kaine (File photo courtesy Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press) Tim Kaine (File photo courtesy Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press)
WASHINGTON, DC (WVIR) -

U.S. Senator Tim Kaine and two colleagues want to address workforce shortages at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to ensure timely, quality treatment for veterans.

Kaine, along with U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Jerry Moran (R-KS), introduced the Better Workforce for Veterans Act on Tuesday, June 13. The act aims to improve recruitment, hiring and retention practices at the VA.

According to a release from the Democratic senator, there are 45,000 open positions at the Department of Veterans Affairs, and nearly 85 percent of those deliver front-line care.

Release from the Office of U.S. Senator Tim Kaine:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine joined U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) to introduce the Better Workforce for Veterans Act to improve recruitment, hiring, and retention practices at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Workforce shortages at the VA have led to longer wait times and harmed the institution’s ability to deliver quality care to the nation’s veterans.

Currently, there are 45,000 staff vacancies at the VA, 38,000 of which are positions responsible for delivering front line care. This bill seeks to fill a widening workforce gap through public-private partnerships, new initiatives to recruit recent graduates, and more funding and flexibility to hire dynamic regional and local VA leaders. Doctors, nurses, and medical staff often depart the VA for higher-paying private sector positions.

The VA also faces shortages in human resources, making the ability to recruit, hire, and train new staff very difficult.

“For years, the VA has suffered from severe shortages in positions critical to providing quality service for veterans. This bill is an important step towards improving the recruitment, hiring, and retention processes at the VA and will help make the VA a more attractive career option for recent college grads,” said Kaine. “By filling a widening gap in the VA workforce through public-private partnership and talent exchange programs, this bill will help improve the quality of care veterans receive.”

The Better Workforce for Veterans Act will do the following:

  • Create a VA-wide database for vacant and hard-to-fill positions.
  • Expand successful partnerships that bring recent graduates, veterans and private-sector employees to the VA.
  • Cut red tape to allow the VA to hire Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists.
  • Provide funding and flexibility to hire dynamic regional and local VA leaders.
  • Survey why employees choose to leave the VA.