Congressional candidate John Katko thinks he just might have the background to help clean up some of the problems at the Veterans Administration should he get elected.
Katko Wednesday released a five-point plan (below) to help veterans with a range of issues, including health care, disability claims and transitions out of the military. Also on his list is improving the time it takes returning vets to get care, which is the topic of an ongoing scandal at the V-A.
“Reform is needed immediately and you cannot have reform until you find out exactly what happened, and how it happened at the VA system. I want to use my 20 years of experience as a federal prosecutor to help take part on that process. You know about how they falsified records; you know about how they tried to cover things up. That needs to change.”
Katko would think about coming up with legislation that would make it easier to discipline and fire officials who took part in cover-ups or who were ineffective. He’s putting together a veterans’ advisory committee and promises to have a vet on his congressional staff at all times.
JOHN KATKO'S 5-POINT PLAN FOR VETERANS
- Local Voice: I will have an active veteran advisory council comprised of local veterans across generations from all branches of service, and my door will always be open to any veteran who needs assistance.
- Local Advocate: In an effort to ensure that my office fully understands what veterans face, a veteran on staff will handle all veteran and military-related casework in my district office.
- Timely Answers: I will fight to hold the Department of Veterans Affairs accountable in meeting its realistic goal of a 125 day maximum wait time for disability claim decisions.
- Timely Access to Quality Health Care: I will ensure that VISN 2: VA Health Care Upstate New York (which includes the Syracuse and Canandaigua VA Medical Centers and their outpatient services) has the resources, facilities, and staffing needed to continue its high quality of care to our community.
- Transition Assistance: In addition to supporting tax credit incentives to hire returned veterans, as Central New York’s congressman I will work closely with local non-profits, job training organizations, and higher education providers dedicated to serving local veterans to deliver the support services veterans and their caregivers need.
INCUMBENT DEMOCRAT DAN MAFFEI HAS SUPPORTED MANY OF THE SAME ISSUES
Incumbent Dan Maffei responded to Katko’s plans. Maffei has voted for measures that hold V-A officials accountable, as well as bills to reduce wait times for medical care. His campaign adds he's supported measures that go after the disability backlog, improve access to medical care, and is co-sponsor on half a dozen bills that support health, rehabilitation and other supports. Maffei is on the House Veterans Job Caucus.