Last week, the House VA Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs hosted a hearing on the state of the Veterans Benefits Administration, or VBA.
During the morning's testimony, American Federation of Government Employees representative Molly Ames accused the current VA administration of fostering a hostile work environment for VA's claims processors--a comment that stirred a reaction from AMVETS' leaders, in light of the current VA claims backlog.
Ames made vague allegations of individual discrimination against union members, but went on to say that the total workforce faced a "constant threat of termination" while struggling to comply with increases in production requirements.
AMVETS leaders attribute the new production requirements to the laissez-faire workplace attitude propagated throughout the last decade, which has led to a backlog of nearly 1 million claims and appeals.
"To AMVETS, it appears that the new administration has created an environment of accountability for VA claims processors in an effort to stave off a decade's worth of apathy within the workforce," said AMVETS National Legislative Director Ray Kelley. "Allegations about singling out workers must be taken seriously, but from what we've seen, the current administration has only asked VA claims processors to do their jobs or face consequences."
During her statement, Ames also called for VA to study the work credit and work management systems, which AMVETS supports. AMVETS leaders said that VA needs to focus more on quality of output, rather than volume of claims processed to measure success.
AMVETS' Independent Budget partner Disabled American Veterans appeared before the subcommittee and also discussed perceived issues within VBA that have exacerbated the claims backlog and the status of VA's pilot programs designed to remedy the situation.
To view a full list of witnesses from the hearing and to read their testimony, Click Here.