Wilkie needs to shake up the VA
Ho-hum. Another day, another secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. So, what else is new?
Precious little, and that is the problem.
On Monday, the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Robert Wilkie as VA secretary. He becomes the second person in the position in just 18 months.
Trump fired his first VA secretary, David Shulkin, apparently for two reasons. First, there were accusations Shulkin had commited ethics violations. And second, there was what The Associated Press calls “rebellion at the department” over Shulkin’s ideas about expanding availability of private health care for veterans not satisfied with VA treatment.
Wilkie’s position on that seems a mystery, though one might have expected senators to ask him about it.
To an extent, Wilkie’s options are limited. A new law requires the VA to expand access to private care as an option for some veterans. As we have pointed out, however, too much authority over that remains in the hands of VA bureacrats.
Many rank-and-file employees of the VA dedicate their careers to helping veterans. It is unfortunate — and unacceptable — that a few bad apples have tarnished that reputation.
The sooner Wilkie can implement a necessary shakeup to get those bad actors out of the VA, the better. Trump should support him, regardless of “rebellion” by the very people in the agency who have the most culpability.