March 28, 2018 – President Trump fired VA Secretary David Shulkin and nominated his personal physician, Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson, to lead the agency. The Department of Veterans Affairs is the second largest department of the federal government and employs a work force of 360,000 people. The VA has a budget of almost $200 billion for fiscal year 2019. Shulkin recently testified before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee regarding the 2019 budget where he hoped to prioritize the Choice Program and the modernization of the VA’s electronic health records system.
Recent VA Controversies
Shulkin’s firing comes after weeks of speculation about the Secretary’s future as the head of the VA. The embattled Secretary has been the subject of multiple controversies over the past few months, including the revelation that he improperly accepted Wimbledon tickets and used taxpayer dollars for his wife’s travel to Europe.
Shulkin was also at the center of a recent report released by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) regarding problems at the DC VA medical center. Shulkin was head of the Veterans Health Administration overseeing all VA medical centers at the time the problems occurred. The report showed that the DC VA medical center had a pattern of miscommunication and disorganization resulting in a lack of medical supplies, a backlog of requests for patient medical equipment, and unsecured patient records.
Reports have circulated of the Secretary becoming isolated in the weeks leading up to his firing. He began to insulate himself among a small group of trusted advisors and would not meet with his public affairs officials.
Who Is Ronny Jackson?
Rear Admiral Jackson has been the personal physician for the past three presidents and President Barack Obama formally named him the physician to the president in 2013. He attended Texas A&M and the University of Texas Medical Branch, and he specializes in emergency medicine.
He served in Operation Iraqi Freedom working as an emergency physician.