Great Falls Tribune: Lawmakers want VA Montana Vacancies Made Top Priority

Following the announcement that the VA Montana director is resigning, Sen. Steve Daines and Rep. Ryan Zinke sent a letter Thursday morning to Secretary Bob McDonald of the Department of Veterans Affairs asking him to prioritize finding a replacement.

John Ginnity submitted his resignation to VA officials Tuesday, and the resignation was announced Wednesday. His last day is July 8 and if a replacement isn’t found before then, the position will join the vacant associate director and chief of staff positions.

“This is simply unacceptable and we request you make filling these positions a top priority for the sake of the veterans in Montana,” the congressmen wrote.

Ginnity was named permanent director in February 2015, after serving as acting director for a time. The position had been vacant since June 2014.

“It is paramount that this lackadaisical stance toward filling such vital positions in Montana not happen again,” they wrote. “The failure of the VA to prioritize the hiring of these leadership positions with honorable individuals reflects a systemic failure of the VA to prioritize the welfare of veterans as a whole.”

The congressmen asked McDonald to make filling the vacant positions a top priority and to also meet with the Montana congressional delegation immediately to discuss filling leadership positions and that top care is provided to veterans in Montana.

The VA sent the following statement regarding the vacancies Thursday afternoon:

“The Department of Veterans of Affairs is undergoing the largest transformation in its history in an effort to regain the trust of Veterans, improve service delivery and set a course for excellence and reform. Part of that transformation is to put the right leaders in place. In fact, one of the 12 priorities that Secretary McDonald has established for the Department is the staffing of critical positions. The goal, with respect to our medical centers, is to have at least 95 percent of our medical center directors as permanent hires at any one time, and 90 percent of other management and critical shortages will also be addressed.”

By:  Jenn Rowell