Apr 10 2015

SALISBURY, N.C. – Today, Senator Tillis (R-NC) visited the Durham and Salisbury Veterans Affairs Medical Centers (VAMC) to meet with facility leaders and staff and receive updates on wait times and delivery of health care for veterans at the facilities. Tillis also visited the Fayetteville VAMC on Monday.

Tillis toured the Durham VAMC’s Medicine Floor, Surgical Intensive Care Union (SICU), Community Living Center (CLC) and the Emergency Department, and toured the Salisbury VAMC’s Mental Health Center of Excellence, Community Living Center, and Hospice Unit.

A report released by the Department of Veterans Affairs last June revealed that several North Carolina VAMCs, including Durham and Fayetteville, had among the longest average wait times in the United States. Yesterday, the Associated Press reported on analysis of more recent data from VA facilities across the nation, finding that many North Carolina facilities continue to have some of the worst wait times in the country.  

Today Tillis spoke out on the unacceptable wait times persisting at VA facilities, and called for more institutional improvements and increased accountability to ensure veterans are receiving quality care.

“I look forward to helping the staff and veterans at VA centers across the state to ensure that corrective actions continue to be made to improve the quality and delivery of health care for the brave men and women who have guaranteed the freedoms we all enjoy as Americans,” said Senator Tillis. “North Carolina is home to the ninth largest veteran population in the country, and those numbers will continue to rise in the coming years, which means that significant overhauls at the VA must be made to properly address growing demand. In the Senate, I will continue to work to advance bipartisan solutions that reform and improve the VA system, and I will continue to hold the administration and Department of Veterans Affairs accountable for implementing reforms and making sure veterans are receiving the care they need.”

A member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Tillis has championed important legislation that aims to improve health care for veterans and reform the VA.

Tillis is an original co-sponsor of the Prioritizing Veterans' Access to Mental Health Care Act, which prioritizes access to mental health care by providing incentives to hire more mental health care professionals at the VA and granting veterans instant authorization of non-VA care if the veteran provides an electronic or hard-copy statement that they are not receiving adequate or timely mental health care at VA facilities.

Tillis was also a co-sponsor of the Clay Hunt SAV Act, which directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to conduct annual evaluations of mental health care and suicide prevention programs to gauge their effectiveness and then make any necessary improvements or changes. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and was signed into law by President Obama in February.