WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senate and U.S. House Veterans’ Affairs Committee chairmen Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Phil Roe, M.D., R-Tenn., sent a letter to President Donald J. Trump requesting the administration provide the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs with additional guidance related to the federal hiring freeze that was announced on Jan. 23, 2017.
A copy of the signed letter can be found here, and the text is pasted below:
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
On behalf of the over six million veterans nationwide who rely on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare system, we are writing to respectfully request that you provide guidance indicating that exempting VA direct patient care providers is consistent with the tenants of and latitude permitted in your January 23rd Executive Order pertaining to a Federal civilian employee hiring freeze.
One of our government's highest priorities - and VA's single most important mission - is to provide timely, high-quality care to the men and women who have bravely served our nation in uniform. A robust clinical workforce is vital to achieving that goal. As VA direct care providers play a critical public health role, we believe that this action is in line with your intent to exempt positions necessary to meet public safety from the effects of this hiring freeze.
Also, as you have rightfully recognized many times before, the VA healthcare system is currently in a state of crisis. We must ensure that, while we work toward our mutual goal of VA healthcare reform, VA is not further hampered by an inability to recruit high-quality clinicians to meet the immediate health care needs of our veterans.
Thank you for your consideration of this request. We look forward to hearing from you soon and to working closely with you and your Administration to honor and serve our veterans and their families.
Chairman Johnny Isakson, U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
Chairman David P. Roe, U.S. House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
cc: Robert Snyder, Acting Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs
Isakson is a veteran himself – having served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966-1972 – and has been a member of the Senate VA Committee since he joined the Senate in 2005. Isakson’s home state of Georgia is home to more than a dozen military installations representing each branch of the military as well as more than 750,000 veterans.