VA Secretary: Department Is Modernizing, Cutting Down Wait Times


“We are making a lot of changes. We’re modernizing the VA. We’re making sure that our services are provided in a timely fashion. We’re making sure that veterans aren’t waiting as long when they need the type of services that they are and we’re making sure that the right people are serving in the VA and those that aren’t, we’re getting them out of the VA.”

He stated they are dedicated to changing the management culture to ensure their patients receive the best possible outcomes.

“We know that all of our future customers come from one place, and that’s the Department of Defense. So, we believe that when somebody enlists to serve this country through the end of their life, that their information should be one place so that we can access their information and not lose it. It only makes sense. One of the things that I’m trying to do as Secretary is to make sure that decisions that have been passed along for decades don’t get passed along any further and we just do the right thing for our veterans and make the hard choices.”

However, Shulkin did complain about a recent decision from the Merit Systems Protection Board that reinstated Brian Hawkins, the former head of the VA Medical Center in Washington, who was originally fired for sending personal emails about conditions inside the hospital.

“In our Washington DC VA, we found that our Director, the person who runs it, was letting the environment become really an unsafe environment, so we did remove them and I did fire them. This was prior to any law changes. Just a few days ago, the judge brought them back. Even though I fired him, he’s now back as a VA employee and, frankly, that’s pretty demoralizing. So, we now have a new law, which was passed and signed by the President not too long ago that gives me as Secretary new authority to make sure that that doesn’t happen again.”

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