A Non-Veteran in Charge of Veteran Affairs?

This is an excerpt from the 2018 Steve Dustcircle book, Trump’s Cabinet: The Rise of Each Appointed Deplorable, available in ebook and paperback from Amazon.com. The book contains links to multiple references and citations.


The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is headed up by the Secretary thereof. The office concerns itself with veteran benefits, health care, memorials and cemeteries.

The department currently has a $177 billion budget.

The most recent Secretary—President Trump-nominated David Shulkin—is the first of the VA’s appointees to not be a military veteran. However, he was born at an Army base.

Trump supposedly interviewed 100 possible choices, though several turned him down for the position.

David Shulkin is “an incredibly gifted doctor” and has an MD degree from the Medical College of Pennsylvania, and did an internship at Yale and then a residency at the University of Pittsburgh. It was there, he met and married a dermatologist, Merle Bari.

He has served as president or vice president for several medical centers and organizations. He has also been Chief Medical Officer at three different hospitals, and watched over a couple medical journals.

He has written several peer-reviewed essays and articles, and founded the now-defunct customer-orientated information service DoctorQuality, Inc.

In 2015, he left the private sector to take a job with the Department of Veterans Affairs as a health worker where he oversaw the care of 8.8 million veterans and commanded 168 centers and 1,600 clinics (over 300,000 federal workers). He was confirmed for the department’s Secretary position by unanimous vote.

Shulkin has a passionate concern for veterans, which is definitely good. He is worried about the suicide rate of veterans, and wants to change the conditions of veterans hospitals.

Maybe it’ll be good to have a kind person in charge of a controversial department that is known to take at least 90 days to see a new veteran patient, has a backlog in disability claims, has seen a shortage of staff, an overuse of opiates, and have seen records falsified or white-washed by personnel.

Privatizing veteran health care would be a horrible thing, says Shulkin. And he’s also spoken out against the need for the Dept of VA, asking “why don’t we just voucher out the care?”

Shulkin is the only Obama employee to carry over from the old administration, and has also authored a 2008 book, “Questions Patients Need to Ask.”

He is also named one of 100 most powerful people in medicine by Modern Healthcare.

One thing I do like about him: David Shulkin gave up a job making $1.3 million/year job for a $170,000/year job with the VA. Convictions over cash cannot be dismissed.

He is loaded with compliments for being able to work with Congress in an effective yet non-partisan fashion, though he has been criticized by the right, most noteably by Newt Gingrich.

In a position known for little accountability, we should hope Shulkin moves with his convictions about the lives and deaths of military veterans.


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