President Donald Trump’s decision to nominate Robert Wilkie, the acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs, to lead the department has been hailed by veterans groups, The Hill reports.
Wilkie, who has worked in Washington for years on Capitol Hill and in the Pentagon under two previous administrations, has drawn praise from Republicans, Democrats.
"The VA has had six different leaders in last five years; it’s facing systemic problems. All the tumultuous changes are not good for veterans," John Hoellwarth, AMVETS national communications director, told the Hill. "Veterans benefit from continuity."
Former Secretary David Shulkin was forced out of the post in March, after the VA’s inspector general found that a trip he and his wife took to Europe last year constituted a misuse of taxpayer. Shulkin, who was a holdover from former President Barack Obama’s administration, also sparred with Trump’s appointees who wanted to privatize health care for veterans.
Rick Weidman, an executive at Vietnam Veterans of America, said that "The problem wasn’t that Shukin couldn’t control his staff, it’s that the [White House] was … backing up people who were defying Shulkin’s orders."
Dan Caldwell, the executive director of Concerned Veterans for America, which is backed by the conservative Koch brothers, told the Hill that "Shulkin was talking out both sides of his mouth. He told Fox News he wanted change, but then he turned around and told [other groups] that they wouldn’t allow the Trump administration to change things. He showed a lack of integrity."
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