Tags: Veterans Affairs | David Shulkin | Accountability

VA Secretary David Shulkin Promises Accountability, Integration of Services

(Fox News)

By    |   Thursday, 23 Feb 2017 08:19 AM

New Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin Thursday promised new accountability for the department, which is still recovering from years of scandal.

"I came at a time of crisis, when the VA was in crisis, and I came to help fix the system," Shulkin told Fox News' Pete Hegseth. "I have been in the private sector my whole life, running big hospital systems, and I came to help fix things."

Shulkin was actually part of the Obama administration, and has now been with the VA for 18 months before President Donald Trump chose him to head the department. He is the first non-veteran to head the department, and is a physician by background.

"That's what really defines me," Shulkin said. "In fact, I still see patients. I see them at the VA, and that's my passion."

Shulkin said when he speaks to veterans about what they want from a leader, they reply that they want someone committed to fixing the system and making it better, and that's what he plans to do.

Part of that will involve making him, as secretary, accountable, and allowing him the authority to control the department.

"I'm working now closely with the Congress, both the House and the Senate, to be able to make sure that we have an accountability bill that allows to us make sure that if people shouldn't be working in the VA they won't be working in the VA.

Hegseth brought up past employee scandals, noting that "half of our viewers could be fired when they walked in their work tomorrow for not doing their jobs or not showing up. You have VA workers who sell cocaine or don't show up, or view porn at work."

"Watch us," Shulkin replied, laughing at Hegseth's comment. "People who don't show up to work, who do cocaine and are watching porn at work are going to be fired because I'm not going to tolerate it. They are going to be out of our system."

Part of the reforms involves making sure veterans get the best healthcare they can, even if that means going to the private sector if they can receive better care, said Shulkin.

"What I'm looking to do is to build a system of what I call an integrated system of care, the best of the VA, the best of the private sector," said Shulkin. "Veterans [will be] able to take advantage of both systems."

He said he is working with members of Congress and Trump to make sure the VA has the budgeting and flexibility to make that happen, but it does not mean spending more money.

"I'm talking about the ability to use the money that we currently have in a way that we can shift it to where the greatest needs are," said Shulkin.

Further, Shulkin said he has not experienced pushback from members of Congress while discussing fixes for the VA, as "when you are talking about veteran issues, veterans aren't Republicans or Democrats. They are purebred patriotic Americans and actually members of Congress treat veteran issues that way."

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New Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin Thursday promised new accountability for the department, which is still recovering from years of scandal.
Veterans Affairs, David Shulkin, Accountability
Thursday, 23 Feb 2017 08:19 AM
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