Pete Hegseth, known to many as one of the highest profile and most effective veteran healthcare reform agents in the country, is on the short list to become VA Secretary in a Trump Administration a source working with the Trump campaign told American Military News. President-elect Trump and Hegseth are scheduled to meet Tuesday.
Hegseth is currently a Fox News host and was previously CEO of Concerned Veterans of America (CVA), playing an integral part in passing the “Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014” that was signed into law by President Obama after receiving wide bi-partisan support in Congress. Hegseth was an infantry Captain in the Army National Guard, and has served in Afghanistan, Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He holds two Bronze Stars and a Combat Infantryman Badge for his time in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich told American Military News, “No one has been more effective than Pete Hegseth in advocating reform of veterans health.” Gingrich previously called the 10-point plan developed under by Hegseth and his team at CVA a “historic document” and gave large praise and support for the plan in 2015.
To many, Hegseth has the ideal combination of experience, passion, national following and goodwill from all corners of the military and veteran community to overhaul and dramatically reform the Veterans Administration for the 21st century.
Reforming the VA and ensuring nothing but the highest quality of treatment and care for all veterans nationwide has been one of President-Elect Trump’s largest issues the last 18 months as he campaigned for President.
The VA is in dramatic need of overhaul and has continually seen itself publicly and nationally embarrassed by countless scandals over the past decade that have cost countless veterans their lives. Many complain that the VA is severely disconnected from the millions of veterans it serves and that the VA’s mission is suffering due to mission creep, corruption and ineffective bureaucracy.
The next VA Secretary will be expected to provide an organizational rethink and modernization of the agency. Criticism over the current management of the VA is at an all-time high, and whoever is appointed to the position under President-elect Trump will be expected to focus on accountability, transparency, and communicating changes to the public.
CNN commentator S.E. Cupp, when asked about Hegseth, told American Military News, “When it comes to veterans’ issues, no one is more qualified or compassionate than Pete. He is, in no uncertain terms, exactly who the Veterans Affairs department needs to lead it out of the dark ages and into the 21st century.” One senior healthcare executive that works with the VA said the VA needs, “clear eyes, mission focus and passion to lead the VA.” and that “Hegseth embodies what is needed.” The executive declined to have their name appear publicly due to potential complications his comments could create.
One senior healthcare executive that works with the VA said the department needs “clear eyes, mission focus and passion to lead the VA,” and that “Hegseth embodies what is needed.”
What many do not know is how well Pete knows what it takes to create real change for veterans’ healthcare. Hegseth was CEO of Concerned Veterans of America from 2012-2015 and during this time he and the team at CVA were an integral part of leading the charge for the Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 that was widely supported by both parties in Congress and signed by President Obama into law. CVA’s 10 point plan, also developed under Hegseth during this time is very similar to President-Elect Trump’s plan.
Dan Caldwell, Vice President of Policy and Communications for Concerned Veterans for America told American Military News, “Pete was instrumental in crafting many policy proposals and aggressively fighting for them. Some of these proposals became law when the VA Management Accountability Act of 2014 was signed into law.”
Caldwell who spoke highly of Hegseth is speaking personally since Concerned Veterans of America as an organization does not endorse candidates or political appointees.
“Pete was tireless in working with Congress and other stakeholders; holding countless meetings with House and Senate members, staff and organizations around the nation to push VA reform to give veterans more choice and better healthcare.” Caldwell added.
Scott Mann, a former Army Green Beret with 23 years of service, and author of the #1 International Amazon Bestseller, “Mission America – Straight Talk About Military Transition,” voiced to American Military News, “I can think of no one better than Pete Hegseth for VA Secretary. I’ve seen Pete in action. He is more than just a combat veteran angry about VA healthcare. He took on the VA as former CEO of Concerned Veterans for America and proposed Congressional overhaul that could lead to real answers. Pete already has a solid plan to get this done. If President-elect Trump is serious about fixing VA healthcare and military transition…he would do well to select Pete Hegseth for this job.”
Gillian Turner tweeted her endorsement for Hegseth. Turner served as the Acting Director for Legislative Affairs at the White House National Security Council in the Obama Administration and also served as a Research Assistant in the Office of the National Security Adviser under President George W. Bush. She was awarded the National Security Council Outstanding Service Award as the youngest ever recipient.
Praise for Hegseth is rolling in all over social media as countless veterans and civilians tweet their support:
There are 18.8 million veterans in the United States according to the U.S. Census and in 2015 the VA served 5.9 million of them. In 2017 the VA has been appropriated $182.3 billion. The $182.3 billion is made up of $78.7 billion in discretionary resources and $103.6 billion in mandatory funding. Among the VA operations are 1,221 outpatient sites, 144 hospitals and 300 Vet Centers.
The Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 was created to directly address the ongoing negligence scandals that plagued the VA. The largest reform the $2 billion bill provided was offering Veterans “choice cards” which gives those who live over 40 miles from a VA hospital the ability to receive treatment at a non-V.A. facility. The bill ensured that $500 million would go to hiring more doctors and nurses to be able to combat the high number of patients in an effort to decrease wait times. Further, it gave the Secretary of Veterans Affairs an increase in power, allowing them to fire senior executives where they see fit, removing them immediately from the payroll and giving the official only one week to appeal to the termination. The bill also aimed at making VA hospitals more accessible by authorizing the building of 26 new facilities.
Many we spoke with talked about how Hegseth has unique experience fighting in the battlefield, on Capital Hill, and in the media for veterans. The support that has rolled in exemplifies that Hegseth would certainly have more support for reform and accountability to better serve the nation’s veterans than any VA Secretary in modern history.
Other names that have been discussed for VA Secretary are U.S. Senator Scott Brown, outgoing Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee Jeff Miller and former Governors Rick Perry and Mitt Romney.