[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), a member of the Senate Veterans Committee, met virtually with President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Denis McDonough. During the meeting, Blumenthal raised the recent explosion at the West Haven VA and discussed with McDonough the pressing infrastructure needs of VA hospitals and facilities.
Blumenthal and McDonough also discussed efforts to expand mental health support for veterans, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the need to provide sufficient care to veterans suffering from toxic exposure to Agent Orange, K2, or burn pits.
“After four years of failed leadership and outright corruption at the VA, the challenges facing the incoming administration and a new VA Secretary are immense. Simply put: our veterans deserve more support than they’re getting.”
“In talking to Denis McDonough, I was impressed that he’s approaching this role with a clear understanding of the problems facing the VA and a strong vision for how to solve them. It was clear in our conversation his obvious personal commitment to the issues facing former servicemembers.”
“The first issue we discussed was the immediate, pressing need to overhaul and upgrade the VA’s infrastructure, including aging structures like the West Haven VA hospital. I appreciate his willingness to consider giving that project the priority it deserves. Secretary-designate McDonough was already fully-versed in the issues surrounding the recent explosion at the West Haven VA, which killed two workers – a tragic reminder of the costs that come from failing to invest in our VA facilities.”
“One of the VA’s most significant ongoing challenges is supporting veterans’ mental health needs – an especially pressing issue in the middle of the isolating COVID-19 pandemic. Secretary-designate McDonough and I discussed our mutual commitment to increasing resources to help veterans transition to civilian life and helping veterans who were slapped with Other-Than-Honorable (OTH) discharges after suffering Traumatic Brain Injury, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or Military Sexual Trauma.”