The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has gone through a range of changes in the past few years, largely driven by public outcry for improvements to the ways in which the agency serves the military community. Wait times have been drastically reduced, while the VA has also appeared to focus on becoming a bit more transparent to gain the trust of civilians and service members alike. However, there is still plenty of work to be done should the department hope to reach optimal performance across the board. 

Two stories broke this week regarding the VA – one that was somewhat troublesome, and the other being a sign of good things to come. 

"TBI examinations at the VA did not align with federal guidelines."

TBI examinations under fire
ABC News reported that the VA disclosed that it had sanctioned traumatic brain injury examinations that were not aligned with federal guidelines, specifically in terms of the individuals who were in charge of conducting the tests. According to the news provider, as many as 25,000 veterans will likely have to go through additional screening and new exams because their original tests had been overseen by medical professionals who were not qualified. 

The source discovered this following the receipt of a letter the VA sent to the 25,000 veterans who were impacted by the mistake. The VA has been scrambling to get a handle on this issue, and advocacy groups have already put forth their frustrations with the department.

"We're really disappointed that the VA conducted all these examinations using non-certified physicians or health care professionals to examine veterans who claimed TBI," Veterans of Foreign Wars' Jerry Manar explained in an interview with ABC News. "On the other hand, we're glad that the VA is finally responding and is voluntarily undertaking this review that should be helpful to most, if not all affected veterans."

Still, representatives in Washington have expressed their trust in the VA's Secretary Robert McDonald. 

TBI tests for about 25,000 veterans have been called into question. TBI tests for about 25,000 veterans have been called into question.

Reforms to come
Military Times reported that the VA is weighing a piece of legislation that would essentially designate the department's medical facilities as nonprofits, which is a move that is believed to be positive for the veteran community. The news provider argued that this reform, should it pass, would help grant veterans access to private medical care, which would be a first for the department and the military community. 

The lawmaker who proposed the reform, Representative Cathy McMorris Rogers of Washington state, noted that this is a necessary reform given the current stature of the VA. 

"With the never-ending wait times and the VA Secretary doubling down on his comparison to Disney, the time has long passed for the VA to make the necessary changes to ensure that our veterans are treated effectively, seen efficiently and cared for with respect," she told Military Times. 

At the end of the day, private and public sector collaboration will almost certainly have a positive impact on the VA and the veterans it serves, and this reform is another step in the right direction.