The Department of Veterans Affairs could see radical transformation under President-elect Donald Trump, if he follows through on campaign promises to shake up the bureaucracy.
Military veterans and their caregivers will watch closely in the year ahead to see how Trump moves on the 10-point plan he introduced during the presidential campaign, pledging "no more waiting backlogs" and "no more excessive red tape" for veterans seeking care from the department.
Some of the promises seem relatively easy to implement and monitor. Trump promised a round-the-clock White House hotline for veterans to voice complaints about VA. Transition officials have not said how long that will take to set up.
He also wants a commission to look into "all the fraud, cover-ups, and wrongdoing that has taken place in the VA," something he should be able to establish in early 2017.
Others are trickier. Trump wants Congress to pass legislation allowing VA officials to quickly fire misbehaving VA employees, and rescind bonuses for others. Those proposals are likely to run afoul of federal workers’ unions, and possibly the courts, as similar moves in the past have been struck down by judges.
And Trump has promised to increase the number of mental health care professionals at VA, something that President Barack Obama and current department officials have struggled with in recent years due to nationwide shortages in specialists. Follow @LeoShane
Leo Shane III covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.