May 13, 2019

Chairman Takano Addresses Veteran Suicides, VA Staffing At Atlanta VAMC

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano visited the Atlanta VA Medical Center along with Representative Lucy McBath (GA-06) and met with key members of the facility’s leadership team to discuss staffing and efforts to prevent veteran suicide.


Chairman Mark Takano’s remarks as delivered at a press conference following the event can be found below:  


Thank you everyone for joining us today to address the critical issues facing the Atlanta VA.

After touring the facility with Representative McBath, I’m reminded of all the work we still have to do to ensure our veterans get the care they’ve earned and deserve.

Last year, this facility was downgraded to one star—the lowest in VA’s five-star quality ranking system. After talking with leadership, staff, and veterans here, I have questions.

We came to Atlanta today because this medical center is struggling. We know many of those here on staff work hard to do all they can for our veterans. As Members of Congress, it’s our job to not only ensure proper oversight but that we enable VA staff with the tools they need to be successful.

But, what led to this low ranking. How did that happen and how did we get here?

I’m worried about the staffing challenges here and nationwide. With nearly 50,000 vacancies left unfilled, how can we ensure our veterans get the care they deserve?

And in early April, the Atlanta VA made the news for another tragedy—a veteran suicide here on these grounds. As Chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, my number one priority this Congress is to reduce the national crisis of veteran suicide.

 Every day, 20 veterans, servicemembers, reservists, and members of the National Guard die by suicide. It’s clear that we as a country are not doing enough. That’s why I talked with the staff here about the incident and how they’re trained to work with veterans in crisis.

We’re here because there’s work to do. From addressing key staffing shortages to reducing veteran suicide, this facility and VA as a whole need to step up to ensure these veterans are cared for. These aren’t issues that VA can solve alone and Congress is primed to be a willing partner in this effort. You can be rest assured, the Committee will be watching because our veterans deserve the best attention, care, and resources our country has to offer and our VA staff deserve the opportunity to deliver these high-quality services.

 I would now like to introduce my colleague Congresswoman McBath.