The reform bill, enacted in response to revelations of poor care and long wait times at veteran care centers across the country, will provide the facilities with greater resources while adding oversight to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs healthcare system.
Eager to show progress on a crisis that drew sharp criticism for his administration, Obama said the bill would address the problems discovered at facilities.
“Working together, we set out to fix [problems at VA facilities] and do right by our veterans across the board, no matter how long it took,” Obama said.
The president noted that the bill gives VA Secretary Robert McDonald more freedom to remove members of the department’s leadership if necessary.
“If you engage in an unethical practice, if you cover up a serious problem, you should be fired. Period. It shouldn’t be that difficult,” Obama said sternly.
Surrounded by veterans, Obama said the law would help the VA provide for the next generation of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
“In the years to come, many from this generation will step out of uniform, and their legacy will be secure,” Obama said. “But whether or not this country properly repays their heroism, properly repays their patriotism, their service and their sacrifice–that’s in our hands.”
ABC’s Mary Bruce contributed to this report.