Press Releases

VA must take responsibility for tragic death in Gainesville
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)
July 4, 2022
Gainesville Sun

…[I]n June 2020 in Gainesville[, s]taff at the Malcom Randall VA Medical Center denied a veteran emergency care because they prioritized determining his eligibility over saving his life. The veteran died 10 hours later in a nearby hospital…. It’s an appalling reminder that our veterans still suffer from neglect at the hands of the government and nation they served.
 
Only a few years ago, incidents like the one in Gainesville were common across the country…. Finally, in 2014, policymakers took action, and together we passed the Veterans Choice Act, which expanded care for veterans. A few years later, Congress passed my VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, which reinforced the 2014 law by further empowering the VA secretary to fire bad employees and enhancing protections for employees who report unsafe and reckless actions….
 
But the tragic death in Gainesville shows we must keep fighting for our veterans—because new programs and benefits don’t mean anything if veterans’ local VA clinics and hospitals fail them. We cannot accept those failures. Not only is it immoral, but we also cannot expect Americans to sign up if they know their government will abandon them when they finish their service. 
 
That means the VA must publicly acknowledge its faults…. Despite my letter to the VA secretary…, officials have done little in the way of community outreach. That must change if we are to rebuild trust in the institution of the VA.
 
Meanwhile, Congress must conduct rigorous oversight, reform old laws and pass new ones as needed. Some recent efforts to improve life for veterans—like my legislation to help vets reentering the workforce pursue careers in science and technology—are already on the books. Others, like my burn pit bill, will become law soon. When that happens, it will provide much needed assistance for millions of veterans suffering from toxic exposure, as well as for their families who care for them.

Americans pride themselves on having the greatest military in the world, and rightly so. If we want to keep it that way, we have to see justice is done for our veterans. Otherwise it is only a matter of time before our government’s incompetence catches up with us.

Read the rest here.