trump veterans health care bill signing
Trump signs health care bill for veterans
02:08 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Trump's 100th day in office falls on Saturday

He has pledged to help veterans

Washington CNN  — 

President Donald Trump, as part of his dash to rack up wins before the end of his first 100 days, signed an executive order Thursday that creates a new office devoted to protecting whistleblowers at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Before signing the order at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Trump said the new office will help provide veterans with the “health care they need and the health care they deserve.”

“We are not going to let them down,” Trump said, arguing that the order “makes it clear that we will never tolerate substandard care for our great veterans” and ensure that those who report problems at the veterans affairs are protected.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin told reporters Wednesday that the office will review all VA employees and protect those who find employees within the agency who “have deviated” from the mission of serving veterans.

The new office comes after years of controversy in how the Department of Veterans Affairs was caring for the country’s veterans and will work in concert with efforts already in place within the government, including an office that reviews the actions of senior executives inside the department and a White House hotline for veteran complaints.

The order, Shulkin said, allows the department to “identify barriers that are preventing us from moving employees and people that we have identified that should no longer be working at VA.”

A White House official told CNN that the office will “discipline or terminate VA managers or employees who fail to carry out their duties in helping our veterans.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs has been plagued by issues for years, leaving many veterans without the care they need after coming home from war. A 2014 report found more than 1,000 veterans may have died in the last decade because of malpractice or lack of care from VA medical centers.

But the problems have persisted to the point that lawmakers have argued people inside the VA medical centers and the department headquarters in Washington didn’t seem to care.

“I was very frustrated when it became obvious to me how bad the problem was and how little support we had within the leadership of the VA to transform El Paso,” Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat, told CNN in 2016.

Trump promised reform earlier this year in a meeting with the leaders of prominent veteran groups.

“As commander in chief, I will not accept substandard service for our great veterans,” he said.

And during the campaign, Trump pledged action to reform the VA.

Trump called the department the “most corrupt” and “most incompetently run agency in the United States” during the 2016 campaign when he released a 10-point reform plan for the department.

CNN’s Scott Bronstein, Curt Devine and Drew Griffin contributed to this report.