U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly lauded the decision of Acting Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Robert Snyder, to exempt many health care-related positions at the VA from President Trump’s federal hiring freeze. Donnelly joined a number of colleagues from the Senate and House of Representatives in sending a letter to President Trump asking for this exemption on Wednesday.
Donnelly said, “I’m glad that the VA listened to veterans’ concerns and will be able to hire health care professionals to provide veterans and their families with care. Unfortunately, the hiring freeze will continue to exacerbate the backlog of benefits claims and appeals that continues to plague the VA. I will continue working on a bipartisan basis to see that Hoosier veterans can access top-quality health care and the benefits they have earned in service to our nation.”
A freeze on filling health care-related positions at the VA would have been harmful to those seeking care. Today’s exemption gives more certainty to VA hospitals and clinics across Indiana and the country. It also allows the St. Joseph County VA Clinic, which is scheduled to open later this year, the ability to hire staff needed to become operational. The exemption does not allow the VA to fill roles to deal with the backlog of benefits claims or appeals. More than 450,000 veterans have benefits claims pending in the appeals process.