Tester Pushes Back on VA Following Reports of Scaling Back Operations with USPS

U.S. Senator Jon Tester is continuing his fight to ensure veterans—especially in rural states like Montana—are not left behind following reports that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is scaling back its relationship with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).

“As the Ranking Member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee and a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, I have serious concerns about VA’s plans to work with a private sector company rather than continue to partner with the USPS, which boasts 100,000 former servicemembers within its ranks, to deliver medications for veterans in Montana,” Tester wrote in a letter to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie.

Tester continued, “Mr. Secretary, VA’s mail-order pharmacy program is extremely popular among veterans, with an ‘among the best’ rating in customer satisfaction according to the J.D. Power U.S. Pharmacy Study. A large part of that success has been due to the dedication of the men and women of the USPS. I urge you to address any concerns you might have with the status of deliveries with Postmaster General DeJoy so that veterans and taxpayers might benefit from this cost-efficient and highly-rated partnership to deliver medications to veterans.”

The Ranking Member’s request comes on the heels of his letter to DeJoy last week, where he urged USPS to correct operational changes that restricted mail movement and limited carriers’ ability to make timely prescription deliveries to veterans across the country.

Tester has led the charge to hold DeJoy accountable after USPS undertook reorganization actions that threaten to undermine the agency and concerns the changes are intended to cripple the agency and slow down mail delivery for millions of Americans. On Monday, Tester called on DeJoy to appear before Congress to answer for the changes, and last Thursday Tester blew the whistle on USPS for removing dozens of mail collection boxes from towns across Montana, leading USPS to pause its removal of collection boxes nationwide until after the election. He also urged DeJoy to reverse the agency’s decision to not automatically consider election mail First Class mail, which would increase the cost of elections for already budget strapped states and disenfranchise voters by increasing concerns they would not receive their ballot by election day or by causing them to be returned after the deadline.

He also recently introduced bipartisan legislation to provide $25 billion in emergency assistance to help the agency recoup pandemic related losses and other operational expenses, and has pushed Senate leadership to make significant emergency investments in the USPS a part of any new coronavirus aid package, as well as to provide support and protective equipment for the agency’s employees.

Read Tester’s full letter HERE.