tv Secretary Robert Mc Donald on Veterans Affairs Improvements CSPAN November 9, 2014 5:00pm-6:01pm EST
to get back to the other virus. they've for sharing your views on civil society falls i all of us here have some work to do. we are looking for feedback for future events like this. e-mailsooking for some for great suggestions. thank you all for coming. have a great afternoon, and don't forget to vote. [applause] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] >> november 18 begins a new open enrollment. . cynthia burrow will speak about that and who ensures the readiness of healthcare.gov will stop that's 1 p.m. eastern here
on c-span. >> here are a few of the comments we have received from viewers. watched your show this morning on domestic violence and was very disappointed with what i saw and heard. guest were weak and ineffectual and it seemed the all-pro of colors were a bunch of whiny men. one woman is beaten every 15 seconds in this country by a husband or partner. that is one woman every 15 seconds. issue is swept under the rug in this country. probably and most likely because most of the perpetrators are male. the only way this will ever change is if men are willing to look at their own bad behavior and address it had on.
>> i was listening to your commentator and the ones from the bloomberg news talking about reid'sls being on harry desk. each and every one of those bills have a repeal of what they call obamacare. whoever is your commentator, i just heard they comment on the rathero called in -- than having democrats, and and letrepublicans comment, democratic and republicans fight it out on the show. if you ever decide to do that, i am up for that. >> continue to let us know what the programs -- let us know what
you think about the programs you are watching. , joinn send us a tweet the c-span conversation, like us on facebook and follow us on twitter. c-span student videocam contest is underway. the three branches and you, showing how policy, law or action by the executive, legislation or judicial branch has affected you or your community. there are 200 cash prizes for students and teachers totaling $100,000 top for the list of rules and how to get started, go to student cam. or. >> coming up, the veterans affairs secretary, robert mcdonald, talks about the v.a.. is on newsmakers. and later, a preview of
president obama's trip to asia. >> the veterans affairs secretary, robert mcdonald, recently spoke at the national press club where he outlined efforts in the v.a.. been withmcdonald has the department for just over three months. he replaced eric shinseki you step down after it was discovered medical facilities were misrepresenting wait times for veterans seeking care. this is one hour. >> thank you so much. thanks to kevin for initially inviting me when we were together in cincinnati, ohio at shaft -- and thanks to
i think it was the first or second day of my nomination where he said i had to come to the press club. i appreciate the warm welcome i have had it it's great to see so many familiar faces in the audience. true that the v.a. is larger than procter & gamble in many ways. we have about 340,000 employees. over $155 billion. but in many ways, procter & gamble is bigger in many ways. given day, 5 billion people on the planet use at least one procter & gamble product will stop that is five out of seven. as myron so nicely pointed out, during my tenure, we increased by 1 million and many of those people were in developing markets and were people we had
not reached. reste are not going to until we get to everybody on the planet is our products improve people's lives will stop the reason i tell you that is because this is a good reason for why president obama decided to nominate me and why the senate confirmed me so quickly. at the v.a.,on is we have lots of customers. we have 9 million veterans in our health care system. about at theto be v.a. is improving customer service. that is at the center of everything we are doing on the road to veterans day and beyond. i'm going to talk about what we are doing. i think it is wonderful to be day which i am
assuming is your last meeting before veterans day. kevin and i were talking that maybe we should do this every i could every year, come back and give you a state of the v.a. discussion over lunch. [applause] i know my friends from the v.a. are cringing that i made that commitment, but i thought it was pretty good. what did you think? every year on the 11th day of the 11th month, all americans reflect on life and pay tribute to the men and women who made our way of life hospital. always a solemn day. we celebrate the service, sacrifice and enduring achievements of almost 22 men, living americans who have served duringion in uniform
times of war and during times of peace. individually and collectively, veterans are the life led of democracy. obama recently reminded us, when the world is threatened, it calls on america and we call on our troops. in the coming days, countless ceremonies will be held across the country. americans will pause to honor those who earn the title of veteran. men and women who gave ,hemselves, no matter what they but on that day we will pay tribute to them and honor them and no words of appreciation can capture what we owe them. -- i agree with you.
employees at the department of veterans affairs are privileged to serve the american veteran. there is no higher calling. that is why i took this job. for me, every single day is veterans day. every single day is veterans day and that is why i love this job. v.a. at theg to the end of july, i embarked on the road to veterans day. reform going at the v.a.. i have been to 21 different cities and visited 42 different v.a. operations. i have spoken with the deans and students at 11 medical schools. in case you're not aware, i'm anyonenurses, doctors, with a medical degree, come and see me. we have been meeting with veterans service organizations.
nongovernment organizations, members of commerce -- members of congress, members of state government, members of county and city government, i have met with union officials and i have told them all that this is a big task, to care for our veterans in the right way. is to our key strategies teach it partnerships. we embrace everything you want to do. come born are with us and we will work together. focuses firstan on rebuilding trust, that is our first strategy. know trust has been compromise with the v.a. and we have to earn it back when veteran at a time. in that regard, i think we have the right mission, that is to care for the nation's veterans.
they are our customers in everything we do is focused on them. without them, we have no reason to exist will stop we have the right values will stop their --nified by this acronym integrity, commitment, advocacy, respect, and excellence. these values define our culture and define the behaviors we would all like to see by every employee in the v.a.. surprisingly, my first day of secretary, i asked for every leader in the v.a. and every employee to recommit themselves to our mission and our values. not a trite exercise. my expectation was every leader in v.a. would get together with their organization, would sit
down and talk about our organization, and then talk about our values and where those values may have been compromised. thate it clear, very clear anyone in our organization who violated those values will be held accountable. i am convinced we have with this mission with these values, the framework in place to create the change that we need to make. let me talk about accountability. there has been a lot of discussion about accountability in the media. every leader has talked about our values with their teams. of those 41 different sites i visited, i have a town hall meeting with employees, have a meeting with the leadership of the organization, with the
whistleblowers in that organization, with the union president, and with all stakeholders. every single case, i talk about our mission and our values. we have right now proposed more than 40 disciplinary action so far and we have over 100 investigations currently underway within the department. by the ig, some by the department of justice, some involve the f b i, some involve the office of special counsel, and others involved and accountability team that we stood up called the office of count -- office of accountability review. it is an organization that reports directly to me. about 500,000g disciplinary actions over the past year. some of those 5600 are already completed.
we have about 2000 going on serious aboutre making sure we hold people accountable for their actions. all of these investigations are done and there is a hierarchy to the order of these investigations, when the f the i has the highest position because they are talking about criminal investigations, all of the evidence is passed down to us and we can use that to take the appropriate action. indidn't -- we do so accordance with the law and the constitution of the united dates. we currently do so under the witness protection certification program. we had evidence of whistleblowers being maltreated by their superiors.
i wanted to make sure we went through the certification process and every time the office of counsel has identified retaliation taken against whistleblowers, we've taken the action to put them into new jobs so they can continue their careers, and we have thank them for their input. why? i was once with chancellor angela merkel and we were talking about the procter & gamble company in germany. she was complaining about the fact she had to get reelected every so often and i said excuse me, but your election is periodic, just like we finish a two-year election cycle in the house and a six year cycle for the senate. the procter & gamble company, you 5 billion people voting every single day.
every day use shave your face with a gillette razor, every day you used my detergent, you are voting on the procter & gamble company. at the v.a., we have people voting every day. veterans2 million voting every single day on whether to connect with us or benefits, on g.i. bills, four loans and mortgages. the way we look at it. in order to do that well, we have to have the criticism from employees and we've got to have employees involved in our efforts. bob snyder who is sitting appear with me, one of the reasons i brought him here was to recognize the great work he is doing and leading the change effort. one of the things i'll bend i have talked about his we need to allup teams of employees over the country that can
participate in our change efforts. that then to change the people who actually do the work? this is the way great companies change themselves. bob has been around 222 different sites and we have now on theseindividuals teams that are going to be helping us lead the change effort will stop i want every single employee to help us understand how to improve our service to veterans. culturens changing the and that is what we are in the process of doing. our road to veterans day focused on access to care. care.d to deliver better i have to thank my west point classmate and dear friend of over were the, sloan gibson, who
anded as interim secretary is now deputy secretary, for the way he paved the way to veterans day before i was confirmed. under his leadership, we began to surge resources to sites where we needed. providing longer clinical hours, we have been moving mobile vans to various locations. we have been asking employees to work overtime and trying to do everything we can, using tele-health and a better way, using broadband to get work done for veterans in rural areas. been reaching out to veterans on our waitlist and we have asked them when would you like your appointment? we are getting them appointments in the clinics.
wait times are decreasing. v.a. has scheduled one pouring 2 million more appointments in the past four months than in the same time last year full in total, v.a. medical centers have scheduled over nine teen million veterans appointments from june to october. there is no medical system in the country that can do that. authorizing 1.1 9 million non-v.a. health care appointments, a 47% increase over the same time last year. nationaleduced the weight time by 18%, meaning if you are a veteran and you want to see a primary care physician, the wait time is down to 18%. basicallyime is walked in, or less than 30 days. we would like it to be less than 30 days everywhere.
we have completed 98% of the employee him -- of the -- notably in phoenix, which was the first medical center that had a problem and was the first place i visited. we have patient care primary wait times down 37% since june. in my discussions with employees, veterans and stakeholders, i have seen long-term reform is necessary in our firstull of strategy is to rebuild trust. the third strategy is to plan and reform for the long-term. strategy inut this the context of a reform effort we have undertaken called my v.a.. the reason we call it my v.a. is because it's what i would like all the veterans to think of when they think of the v.a. --
it's not a monolithic black box hard to understand, hard to reach -- it is human beings, it is all of us sitting here, people wanting to take care of our veterans and we want everyone to think of us as a warm, to be with us, and think of this v.a. as their v.a.. it will provide veterans with seamless, integrated v.a., whether they come to us digitally come by phone or in person. to you a want to come certain way and as a business, you've got to help them get to you the way they want to at the time they want to and for the service they want. know, i gave out my cell phone number publicly at my first national press conference. it has been republished twice by the washington post and i had
the great joy last night of having other people of bush it from a breakfast i had yesterday morning. it did not take long for veterans to realize what i number was or what my e-mail address was, but you know what? i did this on purpose for a single reason. i was trying to communicate to veterans how we care for them. i want them calling me. i want them texting me. i will try to solve their problems. i have had about 900 calls or text and so far we have been able to work through about 30 of them. [laughter] let me restate that. 30 to a positive conclusion. not 30 that is all we have dealt with. we deal with them within weeks of when we get them. have had a positive conclusion, i cannot tell you how rewarding it is to get the
callback, which often comes -- say i have been struggling with this for months, thank you for helping me or a homeless person saying i qualify for disability benefits. i got my first check and i'm no longer homeless will stop this makes all of our jobs at the v.a. tremendously rewarding. all of ourewing operations to figure out how to organize the department for success and the implementation of the new act, the veterans access choice and accountability act is underway and is an important part of our service to our veterans. began sending out cards to veterans who are in need. the veterans health administration is working to make v.a. health care more veteran tantric under something we call the blue print for excellence. for oura strategic plan
health care system going forward. we asked dr. jonathan perlin, onechief medical officer at of the largest health care networks in the country and former secretary of health who worked with carolyn clancy. weput together strategies are going to deploy people against to change our health care system and return it. it large measure, we are best in class, and return it to best in class in every area. we need doctors and nurses. that is why i went on a writ treating binge. i started at the duke medical school. we have relationships between the v.a. and most of the great medical schools in the country where the doctors who teach in the medical school do their
clinical work at the v.a. and do their research at the v.a. full that is what makes the v.a. essential for american medicine. i spoke at the institute of medicine not long ago at their annual convention and received a standing ovation. it was about the important role the v.a. plays in our country in american medicine. it is a place where we do research no one else will pay for because our veterans need it. i would argue the best patients in the world. it is a place where doctors can take that clinical work and research and go into the best medical schools in the country, do, harvard, penn, stanford and teach. we are proud to have these association because what it veterans the 9 million who use our health care system is they get the best doctors in
the country. big fan of stephen covey who wrote a book called habits of highly effective -- highly effective people. when our v.a. doctors teach in the best schools in the country because that tells me they are providing the best clinical care to our veterans every single day they work in our clinics. we are going to continue to do that. one of the things we had to do was to take a look at the salary skills. our salary skills had not moved for a number of years. i raise the salary bands for our doctors will stop it was done by location by specialty. recruit newg us doctors. as you think of our veterans benefits administration, we have reduced the claims act log by
60%. that is significant progress. it's one of the most profound transformations of government is as i have seen in my career. how did we do it? a lot of it is due to using i.t. as leverage. now the majority of claims are done in the digital format rather than in paper. as a result, the claims can be handled much more expeditiously and we have been able to drive that down by 60% will stop everybody knows about our health care system and benefits administration. another it place that does not get much credit is our national cemetery administration. it was the genesis of the forerunner of the v.a.. hisham lincoln said in
second inaugural address that we have to care for newborn the battle, for his widow, and for his orphans. 11%we paraphrase it because of our veterans are women. we save for those who have won the battle. but during the civil war, soldiers died on the battlefield and were buried on the battlefield. there were no dog tags will top i would wear a dog tag around my neck, i would put one around my boot in case my hottie got separated. there was no military procedure of writing home about the death of a loved one. president lincoln initially worked with congress to pass a law to put aside federal lands to bury civil war soldiers. the early sanitation commission dug up the soldiers.
we identified about 67% of the soldiers who fought in the civil war who were identified. the people who began populating our national cemeteries today. if you want to do a course in civil war history, we've got great cemeteries and great people who can teach you about what we learned. not want to leave out another one of our strategic objectives which is to decrease homelessness. we have been interagency of housing andup urban development, v.a., and labor, where we work on homelessness. we had a meeting that tom perez chaired. veteran homelessness is down 33% and secretaries shinseki deserve
enormous credit for what has been done with veteran homelessness. but if there is one homeless veteran, it is one too many. we are continuing to work very hard to do that. [applause] let me close by saying i am personally convinced that this job can be done, that these executed, that we can care for the veterans the way we should be caring for them, and i have seen it will stop i have seen it in best practices around the country. i sought in palo alto in our facility populated by doctors who teach at stanford medical school. it in places like where we have an
sponge and and bill ballmer who have developed something called the re-walk and the exoskeleton to help veterans who were paralyzed to walk. this is not a circus trick. walks outyzed veteran with her muscles get exercise and their bones do not have i have been toop other places where i have seen the administration recently rated number one in customer satisfaction according to the customer satisfaction index. googleted it higher than , higher than lexus, higher than some of your favorite rants. we know we can do this. i have seen work at benefits office where we have driven down the backlog of claims. is thecourages me
employees at the v.a.. they are inspired by the high calling we all have and what we need to do is work together to reform what we do, improve veteran outcomes, and make sure we take care of the 22 million veterans in this country. thank you for your attention. i look forward to your questions. [applause] >> enqueue. whatever you have heard about the problems of the phoenix va hospital, the falsified records happened. what have you done to make sure those problem's don't occur elsewhere in the future? >> the big issue here is making
sure when an organization has a metric, that the metric has not get confused for an outcome. need toook at what we do in v.a., icn increasing need for more doctors, more nurses, and more money. let me give you an example. -- when doesysis the effect of a war peak on the v.a.? you may think soldiers are coming home from iraq and afghanistan, many of them, if not most of them will be home by this year or next. 40 years is when the peak man occurs for a veteran serving in the war. why is that should mark because people age. airbornethe 82nd division and i have very shooter
developed 60 times. and thekidney stone doctor did an x-ray and said i have good news and bad news will stop the good news is i found your kidney stone. andtill high in your kidney we can break it into pieces and you will pass it. the bad news is you have note discs in the lower back. have you ever parachuted? yes. as i age, it is harder and harder for me to sleep through the night, it's harder for me to stand for a long time, but that does not occur when you are 25, 30 or 40. it starts occurring when you are 60 or 61 like i am. withwe need to do is work the president and work with members of congress to understand what we need and what the demand is and make sure we to fitget and programs that capacity. if you ask me what the issue was
in phoenix, it was two things -- first, demand was way beyond what capacity was. when i went to phoenix, we needed 1000 new doctors. we hired them already. we also need new facilities. good health care facilities have three rooms per primary care physician. at phoenix, we had one. you simply cannot get the people through the system fast enough. the new law gives us 27 new facilities. one is in phoenix so we can stopase the space will then there is the culture. you cannot have a culture where in phoenix,tric -- the 14 day metric became what drove the culture rather than good outcomes for veterans of i started mywhy
talk with the missions and the values. it is the mission and values. don't let any other metric it in your way. >> the v.a. inspector general's report the summer downplayed the links between delayed care in phoenix and the 40 deaths a whistleblower said could have resulted from the delays. recently, e-mails surface showing sloan gibson who you paid tribute to today corresponded with the acting inspector general to encourage them to include language downplaying those links in the report. was it appropriate to seek changes to an inspector general's report and was it appropriate for the ig to act on those suggestions? >> we take every veteran out from incredibly seriously. the fact that veterans were not
getting the appropriate care they have earned we all take personally. these are the guys we all served with. when i think to the guys i it becomes very personal. to think there is some shenanigans going on for a man as purposes by honorable as sloan gibson who andalso served his country has agreed to serve again, ladies and gentlemen -- he was very successful and has come back to serve again -- i cannot comment on how that upsets me. governmentprocess in and those of you here in washington know this is an
inspector general always has an arms length relationship with the department they serve. one of the first things i did on day one was i went to the ig's office and spoke to the assembled group. i said i want you to be as tough as you can possibly be with our department. we can't get better without you being tough on us. i've been on the boards of companies and on audit committees. --s is what the role is you've got to be tough if you are going to find a way to improve. as part of that talk, i asked our inspector general to please give me all the issues you have identified that you believe have not been remediated yet. but had to do some work they went back through all the
store files and found all of those and provided those to me. we have set up groups of people to remediate those issues and i intend to try to remediate every single one. but the process in government is when the ig creates the report, they send it to the affected department. they send a draft and they ask for comments. the most effective audit committee is an audit committee that works with you to correct problems. it is not a got you exercise. part of it is but they work with you to improve the department. when the ig said the report over, his expectation was help me improve the report. help me be clear on the issues.
he said the report was not affected by anyone. he said it was not affected by anyone in the ig's office. >> based on what you know, do you think any debts happen in phoenix because of the delayed care and if so, will we ever know how many people died because of this? >> that question did not hear my answer to the last question, but that is because it was ahead of time. a veteran outcome that is adverse our facilities, i take hursley. that is all you need to know. >> the former director of the phoenix v.a. medical center has been on paid administrative leave for six months. the year -- there ig report demonstrated negligence on her part. when are you going to use the tools given to you by congress
and simply fire her? the new act gave us one new is tond that one new tool shorten the appeal time of a senior executive service government employee. that is one class of employee. that one class is less than 1% of the 340,000 people that we have. was cut in half and we are grateful for that, but that is the only change. is a hierarchy to investigation and the administrative disciplinary action i take is in a sense lower in hierarchy than criminal while thens will stop fbi is investigating, the last thing they want is for them to be involved -- for me to be
involved because they are trained from an all investigators and our people are not. if the department of justice chooses not to prosecute, then it comes back to the department and we take our disciplinary action. we need to make sure the criminal prosecutions and investigations run their course before we do. i'm sure i'm going to get the question, so let me preempt it. people retire rather than firing them and not allowing them to have their retirement money? very clear on this. if you look at the law, the law does not give a government agency the ability to claw back the retirement somebody has
earned over a career. that is theirs. unless they commit treason or some other salacious act. fbi has not found or the department of justice has not found treason. you will have a hard time canincing a court that you take away somebody's retirement earned over their career because of an administrative action will that>> did you have question? -- we ask these questions because you wanted the -- because we wanted the answers. the problem was not isolated.
it was revealed that nurses at the buffalo v.a. center were reusing insulin hands and possibly exposing veterans to hiv and hepatitis. this year, it was revealed staff at the buffalo v.a. were using improper sterilization procedures on equipment. have these sorts of problems occurred elsewhere and what is the v.a. doing to help these problems to not recur? my 101st dayis is in the position, but i have watched all the hearings and i think it was commerce mike coffman who during one of the house hearings held up a report from the year 2003 and talked about access issues in 2003. so yes, there have been a lot of issues. for me is that we have to get ahead of this and recognize we need to build a
capability that we do not have today. we fought the war for over 10 or toyears and we are not going see the full impact on those veterans for 40 years will stop let's stop thinking about the past. it's important to teach us what to do in the future. let's talk about what we have to do to build that capability so 20 years from now, we are not looking at this again. that report was in 2003 and some of the members on the committee were there in 2003. [applause] of youryour perspective first 100 days in office a man thank you for being here on that important milestone, how much do you feel the current problems in the v.a. is based on the organizational structure of the v.a. today? remarks, partn my
of the my v.a. reform process is going to be looking at the organization structure. what i think of a high-performance organization, i think of the purpose and values of the organization being the foundation. second is technical competence. are they good doctors and good nurses? they have the four pillars -- we are working to get the right people on the bus and in the right seats on the bus. we have hired a number of people but we have other hiring to do. do you have the right strategies? that is bob. we are working to look at the strategies and renew the strategies and deploy the strategies will stop do you have the right systems? do they lead to good outcomes? do you have the right culture? there is nothing that is sacrosanct. the employees will help us
change the v.a. to be more veteran centric. >> i know you might be reluctant to speak about your predecessor, but why do you feel eric ofnseki failed at his tenure the secretary of veteran affairs and what have you learned from his mistakes? [laughter] i think for the last few minutes, i've talked about what i have learned. general shinseki is an honorable man. he is a great american hero. i love to him, i worked with his wife on her fund-raising committee at west point will stop at west point, the government only provides about 85% of the money we need to train our future army officers? you can imagine the people who stay in the service don't have money to donate. it's up to people like me, sloan and others who have had success
in the private sector to donate that money. i honor general shinseki and i have been in touch with him. i have thanked him for what he has done. the work to reduce homelessness by 33% -- i defy you to find another example in history where a country has been able to drive homelessness down by that much, that quickly. [applause] >> you have a distinguished record as a manager from but no background in health care which is central to the v.a.'s mission. how do you expect to be able to manage the v.a.'s massive hospital system? record, i correct the do have experience in health care. the procter & gamble company has a health-care business. ick's products.v
[applause] we had a concierge medical service that some of you may be enrolled in and we spend during my time, we spent about $2.1 billion on research. we have a pharmaceutical -- so i'm not entirely new to health care. i am new to the hospital system and that is why you hire smart people. [applause] >> building on that, what have you learned at procter & gamble but you hope to apply at v.a. and what are your measures to -- your measures for success? everybody tofer the internet. if you go on the internet and search bob macdonald, values-based leadership, at that
site, you will see my 10 leadership believes will stop i have been keeping -- you will see my 10 leadership believes. it is a process i taught at most of the major universities in the world. it is something i believe in. the first believed very simply is that living a life with a purpose leads to a more rewarding life than meandering through life without direction. so i work with young people all over the world. my wife and i haven't got a leadership college at west point and we bring students in from around the world to help them develop their purpose. what i find is people at the v.a. are totally committed to a purpose -- and inspiring purpose. they are not there for the money. they are not there for the building room. they are there to care for veterans. the second believe, everybody wants to be successful and success is contagious.
how many of you got up this morning and said i want to go to the national bus club today and prove to everyone on the world's biggest failure? nobody, right? our job is to help people succeed. i have lived all over the world and i speak multiple languages. i have not met anybody in the world who tries to fail. why do failures happen? happen because people feel prisoners of an organization and culture and what we need to do is change the culture, change the organization to unleash those people so they can succeed. at is what we are going to do. -- that is what we are going to do. [applause] often, directives from the central office are ignored in the field. how do you intend to drive change at the v.a. and can you please be specific? >> i talked about our change effort and the fact that our change efforts are not going to
be just top down. they are going to be bottom-up. we have teams of people organized to help create those changes. it is hard to ignore a directive from washington when it is written in spokane, washington because you are the one who wrote it. my experience with changes that it has to start at the bottom and be a collaborative process with the organization. done ishe things i have i've gone around to different organizations around the country and i've talked about my organization model. i apologize to those of you who have heard me say this before. most people think of it as an upright pyramid and you have the customers and normally your largest organization is some kind of customer service or sales organization, the people
who fan out throughout the country and the world selling your product or service. then you would expect on top of the organization would be the secretary, the ceo or whoever the highest-ranking person would be. take that organizational model and turn it on its apex in the apex on the bottom. people in any organization should be your customers. the customers should be highest people in your organization. time, it is also the american public. not want me to give 100% disability payments to everyone who asked if they did not earn it. that would not be good stewardship. on the bottom, it is a secretary. my job is to try to make it
easier for everyone in that pyramid to serve the customer, the veteran. your 100 days in office -- how are you able to quickly reduce rate times for the processing of disability claims? >> sloan gibson has been working greats longer than me and credit to allison hickey, undersecretary for veterans affairs. it is allison's vision and leadership has led to the creationists -- they creation of this impure eyes to platform which has been the key enabler in driving down the claims. i also want to call out veteran .ervice organizations they have been tremendous partners because we have all worked together to make sure the claims are submitted, our what we call fully developed claims.
partners andse state governments have helped as well, make sure those claims are right before they get to us, then it makes it much easier to process them. great read it to our partners and as i said before, we are open for business and want to continue partnering with everybody. time,are almost out of but before asking the last question, we have a couple of housekeeping matters to take care of. first, i would like to announce the upcoming events we will be having. on november 17, allison mcfarland, chair of the nuclear regulatory commission, will speak about the safe operation of the nation's 100 nuclear power plants. dr. anthony21, kouji, director of the national institute of allergy and infectious diseases will focus on the ebola outbreak.
sullivan,r 1, teresa president of the university of virginia, will discuss trends in higher education. next, i would like to present our guest with a traditional national press club mug. often you come back, the more cups you get. there is no limit. >> thank you very much. [applause] questionw for our last -- >> you already gave me the mud. >> and there's not an extra mug for the last question. for a board of directors and now congressional committees are overseeing your work. what's the difference between reporting to a board of directors and reporting to a congressional committee? >> it's actually pretty similar. relationship with
our congressional committees and i want it that way. just as i have invited you to partner with us, i have invited them to partner with us and they have been great partners. senator bernie sanders, who leads our senate committee, we and i don'tiends want to give the impression that we are so chummy that he can do oversight, but we traveled together to vermont where we did recruiting talks at the medical school at the university of vermont and dartmouth medical school. same thing with chairman jeff miller of the house committee. we went to florida together which is jeff's state. to tampa, st. petersburg, and we spoke together at the university.
the nice thing about my job is nobody can argue with the mission. show me an american who will tell you this is a bad mission or that we should not take care of veterans. unlike many other things, these veterans have already earned what we are trying to give them. them our job to give it to and make sure we take care of them. that is what we are about and i am pleased to work with the members of congress who have been terrific to me. we have a big job ahead of us because we are not going to see the cost of this war and the people who fought it until 40 years after it is over. [applause] bob, and thank you again for coming today. may i please request that you remain seated until the secretary has left as i think he needs to get to another important engagement.
thank you to everybody for being here. thank you again, bob. we are adjourned. [applause] >> c-span's veterans day coverage begins tuesday morning with an interview with verna jones. at 10:00, the annual uso gala featuring general martin dempsey. atare live at 11:00 arlington national cemetery for the traditional wreath laying
ceremony at the tomb of the unknowns. a discussion on veterans mental health issues. later, selections from this house white house medal of honor ceremonies. c-span, newsmakers is next. bernie sanders. then a preview of president obama's trip to asia. conversation with tavis smiley on q&a. >> this week on newsmakers we are joined by bernie sanders from vermont. we have editor and chief of the hill. go ahead with the first question. >> the democrats lost control of the senate. why is that? must you blame president obama? >>