Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe announced on Thursday that his state’s $1 million Virginia Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) vacation reward money would be frozen indefinitely.
In a press release, the governor said he had authorized the freeze because he wanted to make sure the state’s VA program is operating properly, and that he wanted VA to maintain its leadership role in helping veterans find jobs and provide care to their families.
“VA is the single most important and vital partner in the delivery of critical services to our veterans,” McAuliffe said.
“I have authorized this freeze to help protect VA’s leadership position and the state budget and make sure that the state can continue to serve our veterans as well as make sure VA is able to continue its vital mission of caring for the most vulnerable Americans.”
McAuliffe said he also wanted to ensure that the VA does not rely on federal taxpayer funds to help it pay for additional care for VA patients who are unable to access VA care.
“In light of the state of VA today, I have decided to freeze the award and suspend the VA payment program,” McAuliffe wrote in the press release.
The VA, in a press statement, said that the freeze was not meant to change VA’s current fiscal year spending plan, which would include a $1.4 billion increase to the state general fund.
The agency also said it is committed to working with lawmakers and the governor to make VA a better place to serve veterans.
The freeze will not affect VA’s ongoing programs to support the VA’s most vulnerable veterans.
Virginia’s VA is currently under investigation for falsifying data on how many veterans have been admitted to hospitals, and for not properly tracking deaths from veterans.
According to the VA, it has an annual budget of $1 billion, and the VA has the lowest annual enrollment rate in the nation, at 2.8 percent.
The governor said in the statement that the frozen VA payment money would allow the VA to continue providing quality care for its veterans, while also ensuring that the agency has the resources it needs to continue to make improvements to its services.
The governors announcement comes after VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said on Thursday he would retire by June 30.