On Monday, the Senate unanimously voted to confirm David Shulkin as the new Secretary of Veterans Affairs. The Senate voted 100-0 in favor of Shulkin, who previously served as undersecretary of health at the V.A. from 2015 to 2017 under former Secretary Bob McDonald. Previously, he spent 30 years in the private sector as a health administrator at hospitals.
During his confirmation hearing earlier this month, Shulkin promised to bring a “major reform and transformation of the V.A.” but said he would not be open to the idea of privatization.
“There will be far greater accountability, dramatically improved access, responsiveness and expanded care options,” he said. “But the Department of Veterans Affairs will not be privatized under my watch.”
During a press conference held by the President-elect before he took office, Donald Trump said he had “no doubt Dr. Shulkin will be able to lead the turnaround our Department of Veterans Affairs needs,” adding that he was an “incredibly gifted doctor.”
“His sole mandate will be to serve our veterans and restore the level of care we owe to our brave men and women in the military,” Trump said. “Sadly our great veterans have not gotten the level of care they deserve, but Dr. Shulkin has the experience and the vision to ensure we will meet the health-care needs of every veteran.”
Shulkin’s responsibility as Secretary will be to oversee approximately 350,000 employees across the 2,000 clinics and medical centers across the country. He will also be responsible with managing the Veteran Administration’s $82 million budget.
While Shulkin never served in the military himself, he is the son of an Army psychiatrist and was born on an Army base. He was also trained at V.A. hospitals.