April 27 (UPI) — President Donald Trump took executive action Thursday to better protect whistleblowers in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, a step in line with the president’s repeated pledge to take care for American military veterans.
The executive order, signed at the department Thursday afternoon, establishes an Accountability and Whistleblower Protection office within the department that’s designed to encourage whistleblowers to report misconduct, and make it easier for the department to dismiss disruptive employees.
“We are sending a strong message — those who fail our veterans will be held, for the first time, accountable,” the president said at the signing ceremony. “And at the same time, we will reward and retain the many VA employees who do a fantastic job, of which we have many.”
Thursday’s order is tied to the 2014 wait times scandal at the department, which revealed that many veterans were not receiving critical care because of a backlog of cases.
The House has similarly passed a bill making it easier to discharge employees found to be disruptive or compromising in veterans receiving care. One measure to relieve the backlog, the Choice program, allows veterans to receive care outside of the VA network.
Trump’s order promises to help the VA use “all available authorities to discipline or terminate any VA manager or employee who has violated the public’s trust and failed to carry out his or her duties on behalf of veterans, and to recruit, reward, and retain high-performing employees.”