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Congressman Steve Russell

Representing the 5th District of Oklahoma


Congressman Russell Met With VA Secretary to Review Progress

June 9, 2016
Press Release

Washington, DC – Thursday morning, Congressman Steve Russell (OK-5) met again with the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), Robert A. McDonald, to discuss the VA’s progress in increasing access to health care for veterans, as well as other notable highlights in the past year.


“Despite the mountain of work that still needs to be done, I was quite encouraged about the improvements being made at the VA after our meeting,” offered Russell. “I am pleased to see some of the needed accountability measures finally taking hold.”


Some highlights from their discussion include:


  • 12 of 17 Senior positions inside the VA have been replaced since Secretary McDonald took office

  • From March 2015 through February 2016, more than 200 new criminal cases were opened by the Office of Investigations relating to allegations of illegal activity within the VA. This resulted in 183 arrests, $6.6 million in court order fines, and achieving nearly $3 million in savings, efficiencies, and cost avoidance

  • The VA has seen a continued downtrend in veteran homelessness with a 36 percent drop since 2010

  • Latest VA approval ratings (updated every two weeks):

    • Examiner empathy – 79 percent

    • Administration performance – 85 percent

    • Wait times – 84 percent

    • Overall satisfaction – 78 percent

“It is important to fix things that are broken, but also sustain them if we fix them. We must continue to hold non-performers accountable while fighting fraudulent claims,” Congressman Russell said. “I commend the progress the Secretary has made, and I look forward to seeing more improvements in the VA as new policies are implemented.”