The Department of Veterans’ Affairs is the second largest agency in the United States government. The VA administers the programs that deliver veterans’ benefits, like health care, companion benefits and financial assistance to those who offered their service to the nation. Unfortunately, the VA has experienced a considerable amount of controversy as of late, some of which was attributable to now-former VA Secretary David Shulkin.
While news reports are conflicting regarding whether Shulkin left the position of his own volition or was asked to resign, the White House announced this week that he was out as VA secretary. The president has nominated Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson to the post. Until the confirmation hearings are complete, Robert Wilkie, who is currently the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, will fill the slot on an interim basis.
Earlier this year, Shulkin had offered a proposal to the White House that would have expanded available benefits to more vets. However, his tenure as secretary was rocked by a VA Inspector General report that detailed potential ethical and financial violations. It is unclear what effect Shulkin’s departure will have on the proposed benefit expansion.
The VA shake-up comes at a time when many vets are already experiencing delays in processing and receiving benefits. The VA has made strides in reducing delays, but increasing numbers of vets and the possibility of more becoming eligible for benefits do not bode well for the overwhelmed agency. Hopefully the transition at the top of the VA will be smooth, and vets will continue to see improvement in getting the benefits they need.
Source: Military Times, “Shulkin out: Trump fires VA secretary after weeks of controversy,” Leo Shane III, Mar. 28, 2018