Tags: Exclusive Interviews | VA Scandal | veterans | affairs | secretary | robert mcdonald | scandal

Ex-Army Ranger: If McDonald Can't Fix VA, Replace Him

By    |   Monday, 27 Apr 2015 06:12 PM

Barely nine months into his job, Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald is presiding over a military health care fiasco that looks worse than the one he inherited — and the clock is running out, says a former Army Ranger.

It might already be time, in fact, for McDonald to step aside or be fired, Special Forces veteran Kris Paronto told "Newsmax Now" co-host John Bachman on Newsmax TV Monday.

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The VA is again under fire, this time for using patient-care dollars to cover construction at an unfinished Aurora, Colo., hospital whose budget has more than quintupled, to $1.73 billion and counting.

Senators toured the facility on Friday and vowed to fund it to completion, the Denver Business Journal reports, but in a local hearing they clashed with McDonald's second-in-command over where to find the money.

"If you can't do the job, you don't get the chance to keep trying and trying," said Paronto.

"You're in that situation because you're an expert. If [he] can't handle a job, then fire him and get somebody else in there."

Paronto is a co-author of "13 Hours," about the deadly assault in 2012 on the U.S. embassy compound in Benghazi, Libya, in which he and other private U.S. security contractors said they were ordered by a superior to "stand down" while the firefight raged.

McDonald took over the VA last July to end delays in care that proved lethal for scores of veterans and to restore trust after a scandal over falsified patient waiting lists. He succeeded a fellow Army veteran, Eric Shinseki, and Congress supported McDonald by authorizing $16 billion for a VA overhaul.

The former Proctor & Gamble CEO has since found himself on the defensive, and in sharp exchanges with lawmakers, over the slow pace of reform.

"Eric Shinseki set him up for failure, maybe, from the beginning, but this guy was touted to come in and be able to fix it right away," said Paronto. "Obviously, he's not doing it, and it looks like it even got worse."

"I don't think we had anything like this under Shinseki," Paronto said of the VA diverting patient-care money to construction. He called the diversion of funds "very disturbing" and said it leaves the impression of federal bureaucrats being "more concerned about … their own pocketbooks."

"It shows a failure of leadership again and again," said Paronto. "Now veterans again are taking the shorter end of the stick. That's where we're at."

Paronto also discussed a report that U.S. Special Forces operatives have worked in 81 different countries within the last year, mostly to train local troops.

The program is intended to minimize direct U.S. military involvement in conflicts abroad, The Wall Street Journal reports. Paronto said the effort is "sustainable for the time being," but will require expansion and personnel rotations because the work is grueling and will wear down even the hardiest.

"But they are warriors, brother," he said. "They will fight and they will continue to go on until they can't fight any more."

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Barely nine months into his job, Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald is presiding over a military health care fiasco that looks worse than the one he inherited — and the clock is running out, says a former Army Ranger.
veterans, affairs, secretary, robert mcdonald, scandal, replace
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2015-12-27
Monday, 27 Apr 2015 06:12 PM
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