VETERANS COMMITTEE: Privatizing VA Health Services is Bad for Veterans’ Health

Rick Passarelli, Director of Veterans Affairs and Workforce Development

We in the Veterans Committee occasionally find ourselves putting aside our own personal or organizational priorities to take action on something that matters for the greater veterans’ community. This is one of those moments.

Together with the Dixon Center, we are working hard to fend off efforts to privatize veteran healthcare services. It’s an imminent threat that would dismantle the U.S. Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals and clinics’ critical health care services.

The private sector struggles to provide adequate access to care in many communities and is ill-prepared to handle the number and complexity of patients that would come from closing or downsizing VA hospitals and clinics, particularly when it involves the mental health needs of people scarred by the horrors of war.

Working with community providers to adequately ensure that veterans’ needs are met is a good practice. But privatization is a terrible idea.

The department’s understanding of service-related health problems, its groundbreaking research and its special ability to work with military veterans cannot be easily replicated in the private sector. We must work together to stop this effort. E-mail me at if you want to join us in preventing VA privatization.

In more positive news, we recently launched a new partnership between UWUA Local 132 and SoCal Gas that delivers skills training to veterans in a part of the country with the highest veteran homelessness rate. Today, that program is picking up speed.

In mid-May, the fourth cohort of veterans will graduate and enter the workforce. It never ceases to amaze me the transformation we see in our veterans as they embark on an exciting new, purpose-driven career.

Nationally, we recently started work with a group of Department of Defense contractors on a groundbreaking new skill matching program that will make a meaningful impact in the renewable energy sector. These contractors are helping us identify alignment between offshore wind industry careers and service members’ skillsets.

There are certain branches of the military, for example, where service members come out of the military with 70% of the skillsets required to work in the offshore wind industry. This allows us to quickly connect service members with companies in the offshore wind industry looking to hire and shortens the training needed to enter the industry from 24 months to just three months.

I’m hopeful this program will help us better target our outreach to veterans and help us quickly and efficiently find and recruit the next generation of utility workers.