President Barack Obama on Monday will nominate Robert McDonald, a former Procter & Gamble executive and West Point graduate, to be secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the White House indicated on Sunday. “The VA needs significantly improved transparency and accountability and it needs an increased number of doctors, nurses and other medical staff so that all eligible veterans get high-quality health care in a timely manner. I look forward to meeting with Mr. McDonald next week in order to ascertain his views on these important issues,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders. He chairs the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
The White House on Friday made public a summary of a report by deputy chief of staff Rob Nabors that found “significant and chronic system failures” at the VA. The report followed revelations that records were altered to conceal long delays to see VA doctors. “No organization the size of VA can operate effectively without a high level of transparency and accountability. Clearly that is not the case now at the VA. The communication and decision-making between the central office and regional offices must be radically restructured. The VA must do a far better job in understanding what is taking place on the ground and regional and local offices can no longer hide serious problems when they exist,” Sanders said.
He thanked Nabors for report and said his recommendations need to be studied and acted upon and the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs will play an active part in that process. “As the report indicates, ‘There is strong sentiment among many veterans and stakeholders that in general the VA provides high-quality health care once you get in the door and that the current system needs to be fixed, not abandoned or weakened.’ “Our job as a Congress and as a nation is to make the necessary changes so that every veteran in the VA system gets the quality and timely health care they are entitled to.”