Published: Sat, January 28, 2017
USA | By Yvette Dunn

VA specifies jobs exempt from Trump's hiring freeze

VA specifies jobs exempt from Trump's hiring freeze

"On behalf of the over six million veterans nationwide who rely on the health care system, we are writing to respectfully request that you provide guidance indicating that exempting VA direct patient care providers is consistent with the tenets of and latitude permitted in your January 23rd Executive Order pertaining to a Federal civilian employee hiring freeze", the letter said. "Over the past day, countless IAVA members have contacted us concerned about the future of their health care".

Officials with local branches of federal agencies say it's too soon to tell how they'll be affected by President Donald Trump's hiring freeze.

Support positions to finish construction process will also be exempt, but on a case-by-case basis to be approved by the VA Secretary.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer in his January 24 briefing said the hiring freeze applied to the VA, and in response to a question about the freeze and critical vacancies at the VA said this: "What we need to do, whether it's the VA or any other agency, is make sure that we're hiring smartly and effectively and efficiently".

The president's press secretary initially said the freeze would extend to the VA, which has been harshly criticized for the long wait times veterans face getting care. Numerous jobs are high-paying professional positions. "And it doesn't seem like President Trump has thought this through anywhere near as far as they did".

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The national commander of the American Legion, Charles E. Schmidt, said the hiring freeze was particularly hard on veterans with disabilities.

It also included a promise that the order "does not revoke any appointment to federal service made prior to January 22, 2017". The website reported that the VA also says more than 40 percent of its senior officials are now eligible for retirement, and efforts to replace them would be dramatically impaired by the hiring freeze.

The VA has 41,500 vacancies for doctors, nurses and other medical professionals across its sprawling health care system, according to a 2015 report.

"As you have rightfully recognized many times before, the VA healthcare system is now in a state of crisis", Isakson and Roe wrote. We share everyone's concern, but all indications show the White House is listening and that senior VA leadership intends to do the right thing. The quality of that service has been questioned since 2014, when the VA acknowledged that 23 veterans had died while they were waiting for appointments.

"One of our government's highest priorities-and VA's single most important mission-is to provide timely, high-quality care to the men and women who have bravely served our nation in uniform", Isakson and Roe wrote Thursday.

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