The following are the prepared remarks delivered by Secretary Denis McDonough to VSOs during a virtual meeting held earlier today regarding the American Rescue Plan.

On behalf of all enrolled Veterans and the families who care for them—along with those Veterans who are in the process of enrolling for VA healthcare—I’m grateful to those doing the hard work of shaping the American Rescue Plan. The plan is important for all Americans, and especially important for our country’s Veterans.

It builds upon the vision President Biden has for restoring the hope of our nation, repairing the strength of our economy, and rebuilding our communities and our families—compelling us to work together as we build and sustain a stronger America and recover from the global pandemic.

A word to all of the organizations here who support our Veterans and their families. Thank you, too, for your tireless work. Veterans serving Veterans and families serving families, your organizations are and have always been in the best position to understand what Veterans and their families want and need.

And our historic partnership remains essential to our shared success. It is more important than ever.

Our nation owes you a debt of gratitude, and I’m honored to join you in caring for our Veterans. The ARP will help us do that.

The virus has crippled our economy, our healthcare systems, and devastated Veterans and their families across the country.

It’s going to take extraordinary effort to defeat this threat, and the American Rescue Plan is the extraordinary effort and decisive action the country needs.

The President’s plan will work across federal, state, and local governments and public and private entities and get resources into the hands of Americans who need them.

It will make us a stronger nation.

And it is indispensable to America’s Veterans and VA.

This plan supports our priority of providing Veterans timely, world-class healthcare. Here’s a few things those targeted funds will allow us to do.

It will allow us to ensure that our 9.3 million enrolled Veterans will not have healthcare delayed. The pandemic has resulted in 19.7 million cancelled, delayed or moved appointments.

These changes are not only taxing on our Veterans—they may also result in additional costs, forced cancellation, and delays.

The plan will allow the Veterans Health Administration and our Information Technology team to sustain and expand telehealth capabilities critical for video-to-home telehealth visits.

Let me put that in some context.

Because of the pandemic, telehealth visits have skyrocketed from about 2,500 daily visits in February of 2020 to almost 45,000 daily visits in January of 2021. That’s an increase of over 1,700%.

It will provide sustained support to Veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness as a result of economic conditions made worse by the pandemic.

It will enhance our contact care capacity to handle an unprecedented volume of inquiries from Veterans and their caregivers.

It will improve our emergency readiness with acquisition of specialized equipment, more Personal Protective Equipment or PPE, and mobile care facilities that can supplement medical centers’ capacity during periods of accelerated need.

And it will allow us to update VA medical centers and facilities that are, on average, approaching 60 years old by ensuring pandemic readiness, creating supply chain improvements, and better managing patient flow.

Now, let me offer just a few more specifics on what we will be able to accomplish for Veterans and their families.

We’ll modernize our badly antiquated supply chain system and accelerate the department’s transition to the Defense Medical Logistics Standard Support (DMLSS).

This modernization effort will significantly improve the timeliness, flexibility, and economy of managing complex supply chain requirements.

I don’t have to tell you that the supply chain was stress-tested during the pandemic response. These additional funds will ensure we have PPE where we need it, when we need it.

We’ll help VBA reduce compensation and pension claim backlogs that grew during the pandemic. In March of 2020, those claims stood at 76,000. Today, there are over 212,000 claims.

We’ll ensure the Board of Veterans Appeals accelerates the claims appeals process so Veterans can more quickly receive compensation they’ve earned. Further reduction of the claims backlog with increased funding for VBA and the Board of Veterans’ Appeals is key to ensuring that Veterans and their families have access to their benefits.

And, finally, the plan will help us prevent the spread of COVID by continuing to expand VA’s telework capabilities—keeping employees safe, which means keeping them productive, working to serve Veterans.

We’ve learned some hard lessons from this pandemic. But the most important lesson is that defeating the virus is a shared challenge and responsibility.

The American Rescue Plan does that, and more.

It provides the resources necessary to improve our response to the pandemic and defend against future outbreaks.

In short, the President’s plan provides us with the resources we desperately need to protect our institutions, our infrastructure, our systems, and—most important—the Veterans we serve and the people serving them.

We will complete the mission.

With the American Rescue Plan, we will have the resources to do it.

Thank you.

The Honorable Denis McDonough is the 11th Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

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Published on Feb. 12, 2021

Estimated reading time is 4.4 min.

Views to date: 606


  1. Marianne Meyer February 18, 2021 at 4:43 pm

    You could help America by not blasting FOX Entertainment (and fake news) in EVERY VA center, bases and facilities across the globe. The VA hospital in Wichita, KS had every single tv on Fox. Same with the VA Center in Salina, KS.
    Please stop radicalizing our veterans by having them hear that bullsht 24-7.

  2. Leonard Wyatt Rowe III February 18, 2021 at 1:32 pm

    I posted, but it was not published. Since has some concerns that the VA does not want to admit, is probably why. Am I on CNN?

    [Editor: EVERY comment goes into moderation queue. We get quite a bit of spam.]

  3. Jeffrey Laster February 18, 2021 at 8:46 am

    I’m thankful for all the help and support I get from the VA. I understand that times are difficult, but I believe the VA has been doing a great job despite COVID-19. Bless all of you for your continued support and care.

  4. Jennifer J Carlson February 17, 2021 at 7:40 pm

    If veterans compensation claims were not fraudulently denied so frequently there would be far less backlog on the appeals end. My claims have been fraudulently denied, which I am happy to discuss with the Secretary, with documented proof, at any time convenient for him. My appeals are pending. My claims have been pending since 2014, which is a travesty. They are documented to a ridiculously exacting level. Because I am an attorney I knew enough to submit several years of proof of my disabilities and several expert specialists’ opinions from my own treating specialists in the relevant fields’ nexus opinions. None of that evidence was passed on to VA’s own C&P examiners. NONE OF IT. Is that fraud when the claims are denied? My experience interning in the Major Frauds Division of the US Attorneys Office and practicing law in the area of defense of civil litigation of claims brought alleging similar types of wrongdoing tell me that YES, it is indeed FRAUD. I invite the Secretary to contact me for more information and to review the evidence at any time. The OIG told me they do not review claims of VA FRAUD in connection with claims for compensation, only claims of fraud by claimants. And the OGC merely lied and made the blanket denial that “no fraud occurred,” without actually looking at anything at all.

  5. SW February 13, 2021 at 3:56 pm

    The va is vaccinating all it’s employees but there isn’t any need to since veterans aren’t allowed in to their va medicals centers. Since all va employees have been vaccinated it’s time to let veterans back in for IN PERSON appointments. This video connect appointments is a load of crap, the video doesn’t work and all my appointments end up being over the telephone. Also crap. IF you really want to improve care for veterans then the attitudes of the providers you have needs to change dramatically. Stop refusing veterans durable equipment or other things they need to continue living as normally as possible, especially just because a veteran is over 60 years old!!! INCREASE the month compensation by a reasonable amount not the piddly 1.6% we got this year. SS is 3% give us 4%.

    [Editor: Re: “Since all va employees have been vaccinated.” This isn’t true.]

  6. Marie E Rogers February 13, 2021 at 5:59 am

    Can it be worked out to forgive our co-pays for 2020.?

  7. Marvin Johnson February 12, 2021 at 7:41 pm

    I go to the WPBVA Medical Center as I have for nearly 20 years. I have not seen my primary care physician for over a year and a half. At 67 years old, I am not technologically adopt as I once was. I HATE doing things on-line. I need to physically see my doctor. She needs to see me, standing before her to asses me properly. This tele-health craps is the beginnining of the end of the VA Healthcare System. We all know it’s so and it’s what our government has wanted anyway. But veterans who use the VA don’t want the privatizations of veterans healthcare. I hear no statements about when the WPBVA will be back to normal so I know they are phrasing out healthcare. I guess it’ll be cost effective to let older vet’s die off. Shameful.

    [Editor: No, VA is not “phasing out health care.”]

  8. Andrew Schiro February 12, 2021 at 4:56 pm

    We’ve already had the facility to get choice care on the president trump so what are they planning To take away that option

    • Leonard Wyatt Rowe III February 18, 2021 at 1:27 pm

      There is another matter that the Department and it supporters are drastically overlooking, the underlying issues of Veterans Constitutional Rights. Every Veteran took and oath to support and defend our nation’s Constitution. McDonough similarly took that same oath. I have a 17 year old outstanding “felony” warrant, in the state of NH, and they are playing the game, to keep me out of NH, rather than arrest me. I took the matter to the Federal District Court of VT in November of 2018, all the way up to the SCOTUS, and each court I was deprived of my Constitutional,14th Amendment Right to Be Heard and other Constitutional Rights. I contacted Wilkie and Dr. Lawrence almost 5 months ago about my concerns of Constitutional Rights, and never received a response. It is measurably ironic that a Veteran would be denied the same Constitutional rights that they supported defended all those years of service, and then be ignored. It is actually abysmally despicable, unconscionable and deplorable that courts would treat any citizen that way, much less a Veteran. The way I have been treated, and the ignoring of Veteran allies have treated me as well, is just as unconscionable. Nobody is getting it. Nobody cares about justice, particularly Veteran Justice. I have incredible amounts of exculpatory documents that prove my innocence and have direct evidence of the in-capabilities of even accusing me of such. I have learned that “justice is not for all.” I have also learned, “Justice is not for Veterans,” but only available to only those who can afford justice. At the time of my arrest, I was not only indigent, I was living in a homeless shelter for a whole year. I have learned, for the most part, public defenders are a joke and are directly, or indirectly managed by the courts they are in, while the defendants take a back seat in the judiciary. I am preparing to write McDonough and while researching, I stumbled upon this web page. I shall see what I shall see, if McDonough even replies to my concerns. I approve my email address to be printed, “” because if anyone on this site that may be able to help me, please contact me. The poignant differences, and incongruities of Veterans supporting and defending our country’s Constitution, is that a Veteran cannot get those same rights he/she has supported and defended. Welcome to Wyatt’s real world!

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