Well before dawn on Tuesday, March 21st, AAFMAA COO Mike Meese (USA, BG, Ret) took a few minutes to call into National Public Radio (NPR)'s "Morning Edition" program to discuss the current outlook for the Department of Veterans Affairs under its new Secretary, Dr. David Shulkin. Meese joined Army veteran Phil Carter, who was also an advisor for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, in speaking to NPR host Quill Lawrence about the stage that Dr. Shulkin has set for continued VA reforms.
Prior to his confirmation as the Secretary of the VA, Dr. Shulkin served as an Undersecretary of Health for the Department. Although he is the first non-veteran to serve the VA in this capacity, he was appointed by then President-elect Donald Trump in January 2017 and was unanimously confirmed by the Senate about a month later.
Right now, the VA may be the least controversial Department. For one, the majority of Congress and the President are all Republican, so some of the VA's most outspoken critics are the people calling the shots for the VA now. Also, Dr. Shulkin has proposed a number of reforms that have enthusiastic Bipartisan support, both in Congress and among the public. For example, Dr. Shulkins vision for the VA buying the software it uses instead of writing its own has had Republicans and Democrats alike satisfied and sighing with relief. Another popular Shulkin vow is to open the VA's doors to the military community beyond Honorably Discharged veterans.
With the kind of bureaucratic support he has, Meese added, Dr. Shulkin is in the position to aggressively pursue the reforms that he's proposed.
Carter said that the landscape in Washington should mean that the VA will steer clear of controversy for the foreseeable future. Meese agreed with this notion, adding that he hopes that Dr. Shulkin will take advantage of this lack of media scrutiny to buckle down and get things done.
To listen to the broadcast featuring Meese, or to read a transcript of this installment of "Morning Edition," visit: www.npr.org/2017/03/21/520922454/va-urged-to-take-advantage-of-momentum-and-keep-reforming-itself.