WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner (D-VA) sponsored the Build, Use, Invest, Learn and Deliver (BUILD) for the Veterans Act 2022 – legislation to strengthen the ability of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to carry out key infrastructure projects, including medical facilities, to better care for veterans across the country. Virginia has one of the largest and fastest growing concentrations of veterans in the nation, leading to increased demand for the services and benefits provided by the VA.
“I have worked for years to ensure that our nation’s veterans receive the high quality medical care they deserve,” said Senator Warner, who successfully led congressional efforts to approve new VA healthcare projects across the country, including outpatient clinics in Hampton Roads and Fredericksburg. “Unfortunately, as a country, we have struggled to meet the needs of veterans seeking care and support through VA, in part due to processes that are too slow and too bureaucratic, resulting in years of unnecessary delays. in opening and remodeling necessary hospitals, clinics and benefits offices.This legislation will push the VA to modernize and improve its ability to manage current and future infrastructure projects.
More specifically, the Veterans Building Act Strengthen and invest in AV infrastructure by requiring the department to:
- Develop plans, metrics, infrastructure staffing strategies, annual budgets, and relevant monitoring mechanisms to review its capacity to complete new facilities projects and provide Congress with its plans and performance data for increased accountability.
- Implement a more concrete timeline for eliminating or repurposing unused and vacant buildings such as old maintenance sheds or warehouses to protect taxpayer dollars, and focus funding on new and productive infrastructure.
- Review infrastructure budgeting strategies, determine if reforms are needed and implement industry best practices.
- Provide annual budget requirements over a 10-year period so that Congress and VA can embark on the task of comprehensive modernization of VA infrastructure in a strategic and holistic approach.
The legislation has been endorsed by the American Legion, American Veterans with Disabilities, American Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), and Paralyzed Veterans of America.
This effort comes on the heels of the bipartisan Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson honors our promise to fight the PACT Act of 2022, legislation supported by Senator Warner and signed into law by President Biden to extend health care and resources to veterans exposed to toxic substances. The law also provided $5.5 billion in funding for 31 new facilities across the country — including another outpatient clinic in Hampton Roads — and streamlines the VA’s process for enforcing new leases, removing bureaucratic hurdles. and reducing some of the frustrating delays in completing these installations.
Senator Warner has long fought to improve care for Virginia veterans. In 2015, faced with wait times at Hampton Roads that were three times the national average, Senator Warner successfully urged the VA to send in a team of experts to fix the problem. He was also successful in convincing the Northern Virginia Technology Council to release a free report detailing how to reduce wait times. Senator Warner also led a bipartisan effort to approve long-awaited leases for more than two dozen VA medical facilities across the country, including two in Virginia. In October 2020, Senator Warner successfully signed into law his law aimed at expanding veterans’ access to mental health services and reducing the alarming rate of veteran suicides.
Full text of the Veterans Building Act is available here.