DAV Calls for Quick Confirmation of New VA Secretary

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DAV Washington Executive Director Garry Augustine today made the following comments after President Barack Obama formally announced the nomination of Robert McDonald, an Army veteran and former CEO of Proctor & Gamble, to serve as the new Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

“We hope the confirmation will go smoothly and quickly, so Mr. McDonald can begin the work necessary to strengthen the VA health care system and restore the trust of all veterans. We believe his military and private sector management experience can bring about much-needed and overdue change at the VA, especially to improve accountability, transparency and efficiency,” Augustine said.

“As he awaits confirmation, VA and Congress must ensure that veterans have timely access to care now, and that changes to ensure access and quality in the future must be matched with accurate and sufficient resources, particularly if VA’s mandate is expanded. As Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors confirmed Friday in his report to the President on Access to Timely Care, VA’s problems with scheduling appointments was primarily related to a shortage of doctors, nurses and physical space, not just mismanagement,” said Augustine.

“No doubt the next leader of VA has a great deal of work ahead. DAV looks forward to working with Mr. McDonald for the betterment of injured, sick and ill veterans, their families and survivors,” Augustine said.

If confirmed, McDonald will become the eighth Secretary of the VA, replacing Eric K. Shinseki who resigned in May after five years in that position. McDonald graduated in 1975 in the top 2 percent of his class at West Point, then went on to serve for five years in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. After exiting the military, he took an entry-level job as P&G and was ultimately named President and CEO in 2009, and Chairman of the Board in 2010.

  • Richard Levine

    Was not he forced out of his former position for poor performance, and an inordinate percent of his time spent on other boards of directors? Did his employer make large contributions to Democrats? What did he actually accomplish in his civilian career that would make him ideal for VA Secretary? I think you really need what is called a turn-around specialist, which I do not believe he is. I suspect that he would not accomplish much in this position, and veterans will suffer for years to come under his management.

  • James Raschke

    I have been with VA. for 11 years. In 1987 I sustain 2 gun shot wounds, while I was deployed to Central America. For years VA. Columbus, Ohio and Dayton Ohio claim there was nothing wrong with my left calf. In 1997 I went to see a outside doctor. I had 23 blood clots removed, all from my gunshot wounds. Finally I had Vain stripping done. From 1997-1999 I had 4 surgeries all from my 2 gunshot wounds. Still today as of 7/2014 I had 2 surgeries done to my left knee. My disability claims have not increased at all. I have taken the proper steps for increase on my knee and leg. My knee surgeries were done on the outside. If i never went to the outside for care, i would of had my leg amputated. What do I have to do, to get my increase on my disability?? The next step I have thought of is to go to my Congressman and State Senator. Please response to me.!!! Raschkejames@yahoo.com

    • captkel

      Wow.try your congressman.

  • Otto Campos

    please, some one should pay attention to the facility in tucson , az. i have been told that if i did not like it to go to st mary’s, local hospital, after complaining about me waiting in the emergency room since 8. am to be taken care of and it is 3 pm. and have not seen anyone. then, in another occasion, i was physically attacked by a clerk in the presence of his supervisor and then turned the story around and blamed me for the ” green code.”. and finally, on april 21st of the current year i spoke to the people in my clinic, a bryant, to expressed that i was experiencing chest pain. i was told that some one will call me back. no one called back. they now claim that they called me 3 times in 29 minutes. for the last 5 to 6 weeks i have tried to set up a meeting with the director, mr. gardner, to take care of the situation and i can not meet with him nor anyone else. they give me the run around.please help!!!

    • Mozarts_Dad

      I would suggest that with a valid complaint that you document everything with times dates and names. Appear at the Directors office but remember the people there are paid to not let anyone see the Director! Look at his or her picture and catch them in the halls and possible after hours then address them by name, introduce yourself and tell them about your problem and thoughts before they have time to tell you how busy (and important) they are. No luck here? Contact your Elected Representatives in Washington DC. No luck here? Report the whole hospital to the Inspector General with accurate facts, dates and names. I have found that knowing they are busy people and being as flexible and nice as possible without cowing down to anyone. Kindness goes a long way.

  • Sigint

    I can assure you all that appointing another politically connected crony in D.C. will not solve the VA’s problems because the REAL problem is a culture of management and supervision throughout the VA system that is dysfunctional and corrupt. This has been brought out at many of the congressional hearings, something I did not believe I would hear, and can attest to after working in the VA for 35yrs. Management does not want to hear the truth from the bottom up and punishes those that try to effect change. Those that ignore and cover up problems and give glowing reports up the chain are rewarded as managers do not want to hear about issues because that would require work or resources to fix. Ultimately, they play a Ponzi scheme where problems are covered up, pushed down and left to fester with manager hoping they will transfer or promote out of the position before the bubble bursts. The folks at the bottom, clerks, medical staff, technicians work their hearts out for vets, for the most part, but are stalled or denied resources from management all to often resulting in catastrophic consequences. The ONLY way to fix the VA(along with funding commensurate with the increasing veteran population as a result of 11+yrs of wars and aging Vietnam veterans) will be to make that type of management and supervision so distasteful that no employee would even dare to attempt it. Whistle Blowers must be protected but in an ideal management system, they would rarely be needed as there would be a continuous flow of information to the top. A regulation calling for immediate termination for any manager who falsifies or hides data, retaliates against a whistle blower or prevents complaints from going up the chain of command…not just to the facility Director, but to the Regional and Undersecretary level if necessary. This would all help insure that issues are resolved at the LOWEST level as few would want issues raised at higher levels. Regional/VISN Directors must be held accountable for the managers under them. VHA VISN Directors appear to have almost a hands-off attitude and rely on D.C. to keep Directors in line and this HAS NOT WORKED. Let us all pray that a VA Secretary and, just as important, Undersecretaries can be found to establish a culture of integrity and accountability throughout the VA system.

    • G.I. Joe

      Agreed Sigint. There needs to be some very big house cleaning at the V.A., in upper management. First I would suggest. That OPM look at people that were placed in their positions in the last year or so. What they will find is, they got these jobs because of someone they knew. They were put in these jobs over Veterans that were qualified but were never given the opportunity to apply for because they were not posted. Give V.A. employees the opportunity to bring forth, these and other issues. With out fear of retaliation, from local management.

      There is a very serious problem at the V.A. where these kiosks check-in’s are installed. If the veteran checks-in using the kiosks and does not have their veteran’s ID card. They are required to put in their full social security number and pick their birthday from the screen. Any professional identity thief can easily sit or stand close by and copy it down, or memorize it then walk away and write it down. I’ve gone to my friends appointments with him and seen this happen. All veterans must do so as the new card he was issued, we were told does not work at this time. So as I waited, I watched as other veterans used these kiosks to check-in and they had to do the same.

      If you look at this screen, one will see it’s very easy to memorize the setup of the screen and write the veterans S.S. # number down.

      1 2 3

      4 5 6

      7 8 9


      As I sat there waiting for my friend, a veteran and his wife came in and sat beside me. I explained what I had seen and I asked her if it would be ok to watch him check-in using the kiosks. I wanted to see if I was able to copy down his social security number, with her sitting beside me. Not only was I able to copy it down but I got it exactly right the very first time, as she watched me do so. Needless to say we were both shocked at how very easy it was for me to do this. Why are veterans required to do this when there is a person sitting right there that could check them in.

      What also hit me was, this cannot be very sanitary. We were in the GU clinic and next to it was the lab, I watched as veterans came out of the lab. Some of them looked as if they were not very sanitary, themselves and looked very sick. I could not help to think, if they had not washed their hands properly. Then when checking in using the kiosks and had some type of infectious diseases, the next veteran or person helping them could be exposed. Then just by touching their mouth or rubbing their eye, nose or even having an open cut, on their finger they would now be infected. My goodness this is a hospital, one would think someone would notice this.

      • CyberEd65

        These mechanical receptionists are a sign of what’s wrong. They are a waste of money, make vets feel unwelcome, and as you state are a security risk. The money would have been much better spent on a face with a welcoming voice who could handle all of the needs of the veteran from answering questions, to validating parking deck tickets and making travel vouchers. Instead we have this COLD PIECE OF JUNK standing there who could not care less what a vet is going thru and yet we are FORCED to use.

  • Pedro Ramos

    On Friday I had an appointment on the VA clinic in springfield, IL to see a social worker. I went dress as Batman, I check in, Ask the clerk if I should take my suit out and she said no, its ok, I told her I was going to grab a burger at mcdonald, I left the premises, on my way to mcdonald people were saying hi to me and taking photo of me, walked in and walked out, came back to the clinic sat there for my appointment and than the nurse came out which I did not need to see her at that time and said, mr. ramos the mask needs to go that she had complaints. So I left, I took the batmobile home five minutes upon my arrival, I see two springfield police officer walking toward my batcave so I open the door still having my suit on. They asked if they can come in and I said, no, since my son got shot six time I don’t like guns but one can, he ask me my name and since they know my name and address I gave it, than he asked me what happen at the clinic and I told him, I just went to the clinic dress as batman, so I said, why they called you, he said they were concern about my health, obviously it had to be the so called doctor or the idiot psychiatrist whom called them unnecesary, so I told them sorry guys I am going to take a shower and they left. I called the directors office and the secretary transfer me to the police capt, I said my name and the capt transfer me to the Lt, when I said my name he said we are aware of what happen and I told them there is nothing against the law that prohibits me to wear the batman outfit, is he acting combative or trying to hurt you, she said no, so he told her to just talk to me or call the springfield police but they will tell you the same thing. So I asked him, what should I do, and he said if you don’t hear nothing from now to monday, call the director’s secretary, awaited all weekend, called monday and the secretary said she is waiting for some feedback and that she did not forget about me. Its tuesday and I have not heard nothing yet. Hey I have arterioescloris and I need walfrin which would help take my pain away and I can walk without pain and I have not gotten it. It seem the entire staff at the clinic as broken the promise, ” timely access to care now, and that changes to ensure access and quality in the future must be matched with accurate and sufficient resources,”

  • Pedro Ramos

    don’t these fools now that in the military we use costumes and suits like the NBC’s suits with mask. That is an insult to me character when the nurse said that.

  • Pedro Ramos

    sorry for skipping, but I agree with sigint and furthermore they should fire the psychiatrist, no one checked on his educational background and knowing that he is from hiati, he does not qualify and does not have any of the necesary background or certifucate to be a psychiatrist. My last so called doctor was a pathologist from india, wow really. now this stupid psychiatrist is from hiati whom does not have the background or the education here in the USA. I went to see him just to use my benefits and upon arriving into his office he said, I like art, really I came here to see a psychiatrist or did I came here to talk to michael angelo, or leonardo divincy or what.

  • Pedro Ramos

    Academi is a private security services provider. The company became a division of Constellis Holdings along with Triple Canopy and other security companies that were part of the Constellis Group as the result of an acquisition in 2014.

    The company was founded in 1997 by Erik Prince. Formerly known as Blackwater, the company was renamed “Xe Services” in 2009, and “Academi” in 2011. The company was purchased in late 2010 by a group of private investors who changed the name to Academi and instituted a board of directors and new senior management. Prince retained the rights to the name Blackwater and has no affiliation with Academi. The company received widespread publicity in 2007, when a group of its employees killed 17 Iraqi civilians and injured 20 in Nisour Square, Baghdad.

    Academi continues to provides security services to the United States federal government on a contractual basis. The Obama administration contracted the group to provide services for the CIA for $250 million. In 2013, Academi subsidiary International Development Solutions received an approximately $92 million dollar contract for State Department security guards