Wednesday, 23 May, 2018

Trump To Replace VA Secretary David Shulkin

Trump discards David Shulkin as veterans affairs secretary and nominates physician to replace him Donald Trump's veteran's affair's secretary David Shulkin becomes the latest member of his administration to be ousted
Glenn Montgomery | 29 March, 2018, 02:22

"Admiral Jackson is highly trained and qualified and as a service member himself, he has seen firsthand the tremendous sacrifice our veterans make and has a deep appreciation for the debt our great country owes them", Trump said.

Until Jackson is confirmed by the Senate, Trump said, Robert Wilkie of the Department of Defense will serve as acting secretary of the VA. "Mr. Wilkie is now the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness at the Department of Defense and overseas health affairs, welfare and quality of life for military families", the president said.

The president has told a number of advisers that he wants to oust Shulkin, once a favorite in his Cabinet.

The uncertainty has left the leader of the federal government's second-largest agency, its employees, and even senior White House officials wondering if Shulkin still officially speaks for VA.

"At this point in time, though, he does have confidence in Dr. Shulkin".

Jackson recently presided over Trump's first presidential physical and gave the president a clean bill of health.

From a policy perspective, the fight centered around two versions of a bill to give veterans greater access to private health care. His ouster suggests they won the president over in the end, convincing Trump that the 58-year-old former hospital executive and Obama appointee was the wrong fit to lead the agency and too moderate.

A White House official said the embattled Shulkin was no longer effective in his role, saying his "distractions were getting in the way of carrying out the President's agenda".

During his tenure, he directed increased transparency efforts, including a new website revealing wait times for VA care and quality comparisons to the private sector.

"He also deserves some credit for holding the ship together during these very turbulent first 15 months of the Trump administration, just keeping the VA moving forward", said Philip Carter, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, where he focuses on veterans issues. "And stylistically he's not of the same world as President Trump".

Trump, who promised improved veterans' care during his presidential campaign, previous year said the department had made "tremendous progress" under Shulkin.

This move allowed her expenses to be covered by the VA, according to the report. But Trump, a regular viewer of Fox & Friends commentator Pete Hegseth - a critic of Shulkin who once vied for his job- reportedly was irked by Shulkin's claims that he had full White House support.

The report found Shulkin's chief of staff falsely represented to VA ethics officials the itinerary of the trip in order to have Shulkin's wife approved as an "invitational traveler".

The VA secretary oversees a health care and benefits system beset by challenges, including an alarming suicide rate of 20 veterans per day, and a shortage of mental health therapists, doctors and nurses.

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