North Carolina is taking veterans' affairs into its own hands. Following national allegations surrounding the mistreatment of veterans, the state Division of Veterans’ Affairs has launched a tip hotline to allow citizens and VA care workers to anonymously report misconduct at federal VA facilities. It went live Monday, and call staff claims that phone line is already ringing off the hook.
The Veterans Affairs Division doesn’t have any jurisdiction when it comes to federal VA hospitals, but rather serves to advocate for those North Carolinians who have served the country. Director Ilario Pantano says he launched the new call center after hearing alarming accounts of mishandled veteran care. Pantano says the state agency is positioning itself as a third-party watchdog--outside the VA chain of command--to hold facility caretakers and administrators more accountable.
"Because we have eight hundred thousand veterans in our state, and over a hundred thousand rely on the VA as a primary caregiver. You know, we need to make this system work. It’s not about tearing anything down; it’s about leveraging the fact that there are seventeen facilities across the state, that do great work for veterans everyday. And we want to make them do better work; we want to help it get better."
Pantano explains that the Veterans’ Affairs Division will analyze the complaints to determine which point to systemic problems, and anonymously submit those reports to offending VA facilities--with the expectation that action be taken within two months. Every three months, all reports—and responses—will be published online.
***The first reports go live, at doa.nc.gov, in September. To use the tip line, call (844)624-8387, or write firstname.lastname@example.org.