WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee gave his support for Robert McDonald to be the next Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs during today’s hearing. Boozman delivered the following opening remarks:
“Today, VA is failing our nation’s veterans. And from all accounts, the issues plaguing VA are systemic and require big change in the current culture. This agency is broken and we need a leader at the top determined to and equipped with the skills to change this pattern and get us back to our main mission and responsibilities. The inability of VA to deliver timely, quality care and allegations of manipulation of patient data has given a black eye to the agency tasked with caring for and serving our nation’s heroes. The stories coming out of VAMCs across the country are simply heartbreaking and unacceptable. I firmly believe that a lack of accountability is the root cause of the problems facing VA today. Although the mission of VA is different from other federal agencies, it is still part of the bureaucracy in Washington. And as we all know, bureaucracy must be managed accordingly. Failure to do so will only lead to a path of failure itself.
“The position of VA Secretary comes with tremendous responsibility and commands someone who understands the sacrifices and needs of both our veterans and their families. The next Secretary of VA must be willing and ready to lead VA in a new direction.
“And while I am grateful for the service of both General Shinseki and Acting Secretary Sloan Gibson, and all dedicated employees on the ground, I believe the current state of affairs at VA demands bold leadership and a complete transformation in the culture at the agency. The problems facing VA did not happen overnight and solving them will not be an easy task. But despite this, I believe with the right person at the helm, a person willing to work with Congress and other stakeholders, the challenges facing VA can be met and our expectations exceeded.
“At the end of the day, we must never forget our nation’s veterans. Their sacrifice and service to this nation is second to none. Not only do they deserve our gratitude, but they deserve the benefits they have earned, delivered consistently and timely. Anything less is unacceptable. Their commitment to country is without question, and our commitment to them must be the same.
“And I’ll close with this. I believe choosing the next VA Secretary is only the first step of many toward getting VA headed back in the right direction. I am committed, along with my colleagues, to seeing that the next Secretary of VA delivers the change that the agency so desperately needs.
“Once again, I welcome and thank you all for being here today and I look forward to hearing directly from you, Mr. McDonald, in your testimony on your vision for VA.”
Boozman met McDonald last week and was encouraged by his background in business management and dedicated service to our country.