Faced with criticism from former Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin about lacking management experience necessary to run a large organization like the V.A., President Donald Trump's White House doctor-turned-V.A.-nominee Adm. Ronny Jackson struck back.
"I've been in leadership school for 23 years now," Jackson told Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. ". . . And I've been able to rise to the level of an admiral, a flag officer in the Navy. I didn't just stumble into that. So, I've gotten a lot of leadership background, I've got a lot of leadership experience as a Navy officer, and I've got a lot of day-to-day leadership experience.
"You know, I'm not just an officer in the Navy; I'm an emergency medicine physician in the military. I've been confronted on a day-to-day basis with life and death decisions.
"I think I've got what it takes, and you know, I don't buy into that argument at all."
Shulkin's veiled critique of Jackson came in late March on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360."
"This is a tough position, no doubt about it," Shulkin said. "This is one of the most complex organizations anywhere to run.
"We're talking about, yeah, 375,000 employees, a budget of close to $200 billion next year and a very complex organization – and so it is going to be a challenge for anybody to take."
Jackson responded he will be walking in the shoes of a veteran, so he will know as well as anyone what the needs of the V.A. healthcare will be.
"I'm going to be a vet one day soon," Jackson told the paper. "If I do get confirmed, I won't stay on active duty, I'll be a vet right away.
"I've been overseas, and I've been deployed in combat zones with Marines and soldiers and airmen and sailors, and I've seen first-hand what they go through, the injuries and the things they come home with. I've seen how that happens, and how devastating it is to them and their families. I just want to make sure that we do our part as a country and we let them know that we appreciate that and we take care of them.
"We owe the vets the absolute best care that's available out there."
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