AMVETS National Headquarters, March 28, 2018
AMVETS is deeply concerned for our nation’s veterans over the news that President Trump has fired Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin in favor of installing a sixth top official in four years.
“I am deeply concerned about the nominee. Veterans’ lives depend on this decision, and the Trump administration needs to substantiate that this active-duty Navy officer is qualified to run a $200 billion bureaucracy, the second largest agency in the government,” said AMVETS Executive Director Joe Chenelly.
After more than a full year of progress, the VA still faces large and complex challenges that require continuity of experience and capable leadership. It’s unclear at this point whether President Trump’s nominee would provide the VA either of those things. And any lack of clarity at the VA about its direction and leadership stymies the hard-fought progress that’s been made so far.
“On behalf of all 20 million American Veterans, AMVETS is going to keep working to ensure responsible reforms at the VA that guarantee veterans have timely access to high-quality healthcare,” said Chenelly.
Among AMVETS’s immediate concerns on the news of Shulkin’s firing and the president’s pick to replace him are:
- Is it appropriate for an active-duty military officer to run a federal agency?
- With an official bio that does not seem to contain any indication that he’s held a command, is the president’s nominee fully prepared to lead such a massive bureaucracy?
- While we are pleased this nominee has a medical background, the VA is much more than healthcare. What qualifications does the president’s nominee have to address claims, appeals, benefits and cemetery affairs?
- The White House seems disinterested in the points of view expressed by Congressionally chartered Veterans Service Organizations about the direction of the VA.
- This sudden change in leadership threatens to stymie ongoing responsible reforms at the VA.
AMVETS is the nation’s most inclusive Congressionally-chartered veterans service organization. It is open to and fights for all veterans who served honorably, including reservists & guardsmen. AMVETS has been a nonpartisan advocate for veterans and their families for more than 70 years. amvets.org