Since being elected in November, President-elect Trump’s transition team has released several choices. Early on Florida Representative Jeff Miller was on the top of the short list, however, he quickly stated his intention to retire from public office.
In late November, the Trump team floated the idea of former Governor and ‘08 VP candidate Sarah Palin as a potential choice while the military veteran community held its collective breath; but thankfully nothing came of it.
Another choice was Cleveland Clinic’s Toby Cosgrove who became a top contender in late December but fell through due to Dr. Cosgrove wanting to stay in Cleveland to ensure many of the projects that he began are completed. This came as a disappointment to many as Dr. Cosgrove seemed to be a great choice to head the country’s largest government post.
Other names mentioned by President-elect Trump’s team were US Navy Admiral Michelle Howard, the first African-American woman to command a ship as well as Luis Quinonez who heads IQ Management Systems.
By the end of December, two names had taken center stage, former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, and the former president of the conservative lobbying group Concerned Veterans for America and regular Fox News contributor, Pete Hegseth. In addition, many veteran groups have pledged their support for the current VA Secretary Bob McDonald, however, the transition team has remained silent as to their intentions with January 20th quickly approaching.
On Tuesday, during President-elect Trump’s first press conference in 2017, he nominated Dr. David Shulkin as the VA secretary. Dr. Shulkin was installed by President Obama as the VA’s Undersecretary of Health in 2015. As Undersecretary, he was tasked with reforming the VA system and at summit organized by the United Veterans Council last summer, he stated, “the principles that we are putting in place in VA that we are committed to make sustainable improvements in access so that we won’t ever find ourselves in a wait-time crisis.”
According to an article in June in the Federal Times, Dr. Shulkin stated that since his reforms were put into place, specifically his initiatives to shrink the wait times and same-day access issues, 89% of veterans are now satisfied with their VA experiences.
A relative unknown to those outside the VA system, Dr. Shulkin, has his work cut out for him but he comes to this post with some much-needed experience that this sprawling bureaucracy desperately needs. His initiatives speak volumes about his abilities and bring with him hope that there is some light at the end of the tunnel as it relates to fixing our nation’s promise to care for its veterans. Only time will tell whether President-elect Trump’s choice will be up for to the task, but his if his record as Undersecretary for the VA is an indicator, long-awaited relief may be just over the horizon for the veteran community. Kudos to President-elect Trump for what appears like a smart move to make good on his promise to those who have served this great nation.
Image courtesy of AP