Trump Chooses A New VA Secretary

In 1988, President Reagan signed the Department of Veterans Affairs Act which elevated the VA to a cabinet-evel department. Thereafter, it was known as the Department of Veterans Affairs. President George H.W. Bush appointed the first VA secretary and all eight since then have been veterans. Until now.

On January 11. 2017, President-elect Trump has appointed Dr. David Shulkin to be the new VA secretary. However, he is not a veteran.

Regardless, he appears to be the right man for the job at just the right time!

Dr. Shulkin has been the Undersecretary of Health for the VA since July 6, 2015. This made him the chief executive of the nations largest integrated health care system.

He was previously the President of Morristown Medical Center and the Atlantic Health System accountable Care Organization as well as Chief Medical Officer of the University of Pennsylvania Health System, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania Temple University Hospital, and the Medical College of Pennsylvania Hospital.

This makes Shulkin the most qualified VA secretary ever. Being a doctor with experience as an administrator, means he understands that the none of the previous VA scandals have a place in any healthcare system.

Despite previously-reported fears of three veteran service organizations (VSOs), they now have a postive view of Trump’s choice.

Paul Rieckhoff, Founder and CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), said 

“We are optimistic about the nomination of Dr. Shulkin by the President-elect. He is well known to us, a man of character and has been a trusted partner of IAVA at VA. Our membership overwhelmingly supported the selection of a veteran for this critical leadership position.”

Disabled American Veterans reported:

As Under Secretary for Health, Dr. Shulkin worked closely with DAV and others to strengthen and reform the VA health care system.  From his time at VA and his long experience in the private sector, Dr. Shulkin has proven to be both qualified and dedicated to keeping our nation’s promises to the men and women who serve.”

However, Paralyzed Veterans of America approved but with caution:

As the incoming secretary, Dr. Shulkin will certainly have his own priorities, which Paralyzed Veterans of America will support, as long as they are in the best interest of our members and all veterans who served our country.”

And Charles E. Schmidt, National Commander of the American Legion, said,

“My staff and I have worked closely with Dr. Shulkin and believe he has improved the Veterans Health Administration in the short time he has been at the helm. I met with him just last month and believe he is deeply committed to improving VA care and all of the services that VA provides to veterans.”

There is no question that Dr. Shulkin has a big job in front of him. It may be more telling with this new report:

The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office will place the Veteran Affairs Department’s health system once again on its “high risk” list when it’s released next month. Issued every two years, the list identifies troubled federal programs that could cause significant problems due to waste, fraud, mismanagement or structural flaws.”

Most veterans believe that this will be a no-brainer for him. But improvement will take time and we will need to be patient (no pun intended!).

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Chuck Yarling has had many titles in his career thus far: veteran, engineer, math teacher, consultant, technical writer, book author and publisher, and triathlete. He was a member the Military Order of the Purple Heart and Bugles Across America, which plays Taps at military funerals and special events. Spec. 5 Chuck Yarling served with the 26th Combat Engineering Battalion in Vietnam as an awards clerk. His service with the U.S. Army resulted in being awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Army Commendation Medal. You may reach Chuck at cby@prismnet.com.