Military/Veterans News Headlines for Friday, July 1st

Istanbul Ataturk Airport Reopened following Terror Attack –

On Tuesday night, a terror attack killed at least 41 people with an estimated 230 injured at the Ataturk airport in Istanbul, Turkey. It is suspected that the three terrorists involved were Russian, Uzbek and Kyrgyz. Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and a senior U.S. intelligence official both agreed that although no organization have yet to claim responsibility for the attack, it fits the profile of ISIS. The airport has reopened as of early Wednesday morning.
Source: NBC News

VA Dismisses Fast-Track Firing Powers –

Under the Veterans Choice Program, the Department of Veterans Affairs was given expedited removal authority in order to quickly punish senior executives. Recently, the VA has announced they will no longer be using this ability due to the fact that it only applies to a small number of employees and raises legal questions in regards to appeals. Very few have been disciplined under these rules with several cases overturned. Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Johnny Isakson, R-Ga, stated, “it is outrageous and unconscionable that the VA is choosing to blatantly ignore all of the accountability reforms set in place by the Veterans Choice Act.” Earlier in June, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the law was unconstitutional. A bill was introduced earlier this year which would include new disciplinary rules and a provision requiring appeals for executives to be heard by the VA secretary, not a third party.
Source: Military Times

VA Crisis Line Text Messages Unanswered, Director Resigns –

The latest director of the Veterans Crisis Line is resigning after four months of the leadership change, and some staff members are only taking one call a day. The director was hired following reports that veterans’ calls were being sent to voicemail or placed on hold. The Government Accountability Office released a report that 73% of calls were answered within the 30 second standard, but roughly half of the calls received had to be rolled over to back-up centers. Since late May, the numbers had improved to between 35 percent and 40 percent. The report also found some text messages to be unanswered within the system. The GAO recommends that the VA should monitor, test, and set a performance standard for the text message system. It was also urged that the VA should continue working with the Department of Health and Human services to improve how other hotlines respond to veterans.
Source: Military Times