During his press conference this morning, President-Elect Donald Trump announced he was promoting Under Secretary of Health for the Department of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin to the agency’s top job. If confirmed, he will be the first person to hold the post who did not serve in any branches of the United States military.
Like current VA Secretary Bob McDonald, Dr. Shulkin spent most of his career in the private sector, serving as the president of a number of health organizations including Atlantic Health System Account Care Organization one of the largest integrated healthcare systems in the country. He has also served in a number of academic positions at medical schools.
“Shulkin’s nomination drew early praise from veterans groups and lawmakers from both parties as well as a major federal workers’ union that represents nearly 250,000 VA employees, the American Federation of Government Employees,” Politico reports.
However veterans service organization Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America* founder Paul Reickhoff did raise some concerns about Shulkin having never served. “He is well known to us, a man of character and has been a trusted partner of IAVA at VA,” he told NBC News, pointing out that their membership “overwhelmingly supported the selection of a veteran for this critical leadership position.”
However, Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin of New York has sparred with Shulkin during hearings on the reform effort at the VA. ““I’m confident that he is fully aware of the many challenges that currently exist,” he said in a statement, via Newsday, adding ” I am eager to be assured … he is actually going to do everything that needs to be done….”
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
*Author’s Note: Full disclosure, I was a member spokesperson for the group in 2009 and remain a member of the group today.
Featured image via screengrab