WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill is calling for answers after learning that the federal government operates both Vets.gov and Veterans.gov, which can cause confusion for veterans trying to access services offered by the two sites. Vets.gov—run by the Department of Veterans Affairs—is meant to be a comprehensive portal for veterans to access services such as healthcare, education, and employment benefits. Veterans.gov—run by the Department of Labor—focuses just on employment benefits and business support.
“I have no doubt the intention behind the decision to do this was good, but the practical effect is confusing and needs to be fixed,” McCaskill said. “Men and women who’ve served our country in uniform have earned the benefits laid out on these sites; it’s unnecessary to make accessing them more complicated than it already is.”
In a letter to the Secretary of Labor and the Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs, McCaskill called for answers on what the agencies could do to share information between the websites and combine them into one site. “Despite Vets.gov’s purported goal of providing a single portal through which veterans can access all of their benefits, the website fails to alleviate the possible confusion generated by the existence of Veterans.gov,” McCaskill wrote. McCaskill requested details from the agencies by May 18th on the steps they will take to address this issue.
The daughter of a World War II veteran, McCaskill has a long history of standing up for veterans. She is seeking answers from the VA after a report finding that thousands of servicemembers with PTSD or other mental health conditions who received “other than honorable” discharges were potentially barred from receiving mental healthcare and other benefits. Following issues with construction at VA facilities in Missouri, McCaskill called for answers on what the agency’s Inspector General is doing to improve oversight over major construction projects. McCaskill recently raised concerns over what the VA is doing to ensure quality care for Missouri veterans using an eye care screening program that is intended to expand eye care for veterans.
Aiming to continue improvements to the quality of customer service at statewide VA facilities, McCaskill created a “secret-shopper program,” the Veterans’ Customer Satisfaction Program, which allows veterans to share timely, confidential feedback about their VA health care visits, and helps provide oversight and accountability for VA health care facilities. The program is now active in five regions: St. Louis; Kansas City; Columbia; Poplar Bluff; Southwest Missouri (Fayetteville). In 2016, following advocacy from McCaskill and more than one-thousand rural veterans in Missouri, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced it would expand the hours of operation at the Salem Veterans Clinic to be open Monday through Friday.
Read McCaskill’s letter to the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Labor HERE.