The Veteran Affairs scandal has had a far-reaching political impact in Washington D.C and across the nation. Now, Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick and his opponent Kevin Strouse are trying to shape the issue to boost their campaigns.
Republican Rep. Fitzpatrick took part in a House Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing on Monday. During the meeting, he questioned Kristen Ruell, a whistleblower within the VA with whom he had prior contact at the Philadelphia VA..
Fitzpatrick also released a statement on the VA scandal saying, “Unfortunately, America will learn tonight that the ‘VA scandal’ is not limited to just secret VA hospital waiting lists.”
“The agency within the VA that is tasked with making sure our veterans receive disability and pension benefits is failing,” Fitzpatrick continued. “The goal to end the backlog by 2015 was unrealistic—and worse, it led to a culture of corruption in which staff and front line supervisors were provided with strong incentives to alter information. We have now learned that is exactly what they did.”
Fitzpatrick is attempting to push this issue to the forefront and frame himself as a leader in fighting corruption in the VA. However his opponent Kevin Strouse, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, is calling him out for what he feels is a lack of significant action.
“Congress was quick to call for General Shinseki’s head when similar allegations first came to light in Arizona–and I agreed that a change in leadership was necessary–yet this Republican Congress and Congressman Fitzpatrick have done nothing to address any of the underlying causes of the systemic backlog at VA centers across the country,” Strouse said.
“Meanwhile, veterans and their families in Bucks and Montgomery counties are paying the price for their inaction. Voters deserve to know how many times has Congressman Fitzpatrick visited this VA center, when he first learned of these issues, and why he hasn’t taken any action.”
This type of dialogue is frequent in contested congressional races. The VA scandal has provided a playing field for Fitzpatrick and Strouse to clash, but expect more battlefields to open up as we near election day.