President-elect Donald J. Trump should nominate soldier and veterans advocate Pete Hegseth as his Secretary of Veterans Affairs. The VA has devolved into a slaughterhouse, and this energetic, telegenic, passionate reformer is exactly the man to upend this cruel, deadly bureaucracy.
U.S. Army National Guard Maj. Pete Hegseth is 36. His age would put a spring in the step of a Cabinet that, so far, has more than a touch of gray around the temples.
Millennials and Generation Xers should be heartened to see a contemporary advise Trump.
Hegseth’s youth notwithstanding, he has seen plenty since graduating from Princeton University with a degree in Politics.
As an Army infantry officer, Hegseth battled the Taliban in Afghanistan, helped liberate Samarra, Iraq, and kept his rifle at the ready as he guarded radical Islamic terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Hegseth earned two Bronze Stars and a Combat Infantryman’s Badge.
Pete Hegseth has been a voice for vets. As its CEO, he grew Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) into the nation’s largest center-right vets group. He also was Vets for Freedom’s executive director. Hegseth pressed for policies to help GIs win military engagements, not just stop them — as did Obama’s ISIS-creating, premature withdrawal from Iraq.
Hegseth inspired his members to demand a better deal for vets. Decrying the lethal delays at VA hospitals in Phoenix and beyond, Hegseth wrote in 2014, "In the military, such a pattern of command failures would be met with decisive action — the under-performing leader would be replaced, period.
But that strong performance standard doesn’t exist at the VA, and thus executives can be shifted from one post to the next, with little regard for performance or results."
From rallies to TV interviews to congressional testimony, Hegseth pushed the Veterans Access to Care through Choice, Accountability and Transparency Act and the VA Management Accountability Act.
Congress approved both measures with broad, bipartisan majorities, and Obama signed them into law. "No one has been more effective than Pete Hegseth in advocating reform of veterans’ health," former House speaker Newt Gingrich told American Military News.
Unfortunately, Team Obama has slow-walked the new rules that should expand vets’ health options and ease the dismissal of inept, obstructive, sadistic VA bureaucrats. Consequently, too many VA facilities remain macabre.
- An unidentified dentist at Wisconsin’s Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center resigned on December 3. Rather than treat patients with sterile, disposable equipment — per VA regulations — he improperly cleaned and sterilized his own gear. Hence, he may have infected 592 veterans with hepatitis and HIV. Also, Tomah was dubbed “Candyland” because of alleged opioid over-prescription.
- This was not the first such incident. Some 13,000 veterans learned of their possible hepatitis or HIV exposure due to “improper hygiene” at five VA hospitals in Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Ohio, and Tennessee between 2009 and 2011, the AP reported.
- An Oklahoma VA facility made headlines after essentially boiling a patient. World War II veteran Jay Minter, 85, died in May 2012 after receiving first- and second-degree burns in an overheated whirlpool.
- Owen Reese Peterson suffered a case of sepsis. Before long, maggots were found in his wound. And then he perished.
- Did this horror happen in an Army tent near Normandy Beach in 1944? No. This 73-year-old Vietnam vet died Oct. 3, 2016 at Oklahoma’s Talihina Veterans Center.
Trump, Hegseth, and the right should confound the status-quo left by declaring themselves pro-choice on this matter: They boldly should promote "veterans choice," much like school choice. Republicans should tell Democrats that they support a veteran’s right to choose where she gets her medical care.
If Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer agree, hooray! If not, let them face the American people.
The VA gives vets hepatitis and AIDS, lets insects gnaw on their flesh, and outright kills them as they wait, and wait, and wait for care. This emergency requires an invasion. Maj. Pete Hegseth has the record, the brains, and the guts to lead the charge.
Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor with National Review Online. He is also a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University. Read more reports from Deroy Murdock — Click Here Now.
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