ROCK HILL, South Carolina — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush told Breitbart News Daily on SiriusXM 125 here for an interview that aired on Friday morning that he believes the government needs to start “firing people” at the Department of Veterans Affairs who have screwed over veterans seeking healthcare.
In the interview Bush laid out how his extraordinarily detailed plan for VA reform and his plans for helping veterans find jobs.
“The first detailed policy plan we laid out was how to reform the Veterans Administration. We need to enhance the career civil service reforms that Congress has passed and that the president hasn’t implemented,” Bush said in the interview, conducted aboard his campaign bus after a town hall here on Thursday evening. “We should be firing people that have shown just sheer incompetence, no accountability. We need to lower, lessen some of the layers of the bureaucracy and hire more doctors and nurses and clinicians. The only thing that really matters is to have better care. We need to eliminate the performance bonus system that was manipulated and fire people that were part of lowering waiting lists without giving veterans care. We need to get veterans choice cards that allow them to see their own doctors should they so desire or their own private clinic in their own neighborhood or their own regional hospital. That will improve the quality of care for the Veterans Administration.”
When it comes to building Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals, Bush said, it’s time for the Army Corps of Engineers to take over from government bureaucrats who have failed to deliver.
“We need to get the Army Corps into the business of building whatever needs to be built,” Bush said. “The Veterans Administration has just shown sheer incompetence. There was a hospital in Aurora, Colorado, you may have heard of it that was started out at a $300 million budget—that’s pretty big—but it’s at a $1.8 billion right now. They can’t organize themselves out of a wet paper bag inside the Department.”
Bush also detailed how he wants to have various other reforms at the VA, including how contracts are doled out and in how the VA treats various special areas like PTSD and women’s health matters.
“We need procurement reform, information technology reform, there needs to be centers of excellence inside the Department of Veterans Affairs including post-traumatic stress,” Bush said. “There should be world class research and care provided for veterans coming home who have those challenges. There needs to be greater enhancement of women’s health issues because we have a larger number of women veterans coming home and they typically have not been in the same numbers as they were—now they’re in bigger numbers than they were in the Vietnam Era.”
Bush told Breitbart News Daily, too, that he believes there needs to be better policies for helping veterans find jobs—including allowing their skills in the military to be easily transferred to the workplace, and long-term planning that begins while they are still on active duty.
“I think we should begin to identify people in the military who are leaving six months prior to create a customized plan for them where we know where they’re going to go, where we allow for reciprocity for all of the licenses that they’ve earned in the military—if you’re a truck driver, you shouldn’t have to go to get a license for truck driving,” Bush said. “If you’ve done it in the military, it ought to be good for the people of South Carolina or Florida—eliminate all these protectionist tendencies that states have. If you’re a teacher, a mechanic, an electrician, a plumber, all the things that people in the military learn, there should be total reciprocity. If you did that, you should be able to make sure veterans didn’t fall through the cracks and that they would be given a first shot at getting jobs. The stability that would come from a job also would help them with their healthcare needs.”
Bush also took a swipe at frontrunner Donald Trump, saying he’s thought through these issues and has a plan and strategy not even close to the level of which Trump has put together.
“So, that’s a pretty detailed plan,” Bush said. “Unlike Donald Trump, what I’m saying here is you need a plan. You need a strategy. You need to draw people towards that plan. You need to work with Congress to fund that plan. You can’t just say it’s going to be huge.”
Bush noted, too, that he put the plan together by listening to actual veterans talk about their concerns—something that Breitbart News has been working a significant story about on the ground here in South Carolina and will have a more detailed story about soon.
“I’ve spent a lot of time with veterans particularly in South Carolina seeking out their advice and counsel,” Bush said. “Maj. Gen. James Livingston, for example, medal of honor recipient and a big veterans advocate, has hosted two or three meetings during my time here in South Carolina over the last year.”