Image from the LA Times
The president did it again: he fired an official via Twitter and in his place hired a “puppet,” and it’s up to each and every one of you to NOT APPROVE this new appointment. Just 2 weeks ago, Rex Tillerson was fired via tweet. As you are aware, this past Wednesday, Trump again used Twitter to fire an official, this time the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA), David Shulkin, and in his place Trump hired Ronny Jackson, the president’s own White House physician. You might remember Mr. Jackson. He’s the doctor who recently testified publicly to the president’s excellent health. While this new appointee is, in fact, a practicing medical doctor, he is just that, a doctor. Mr. Jackson has no administrative experience, little clinical experience and while he is familiar with the ins and outs of military medicine, military medicine is drastically different than what’s required in VA medicine. In VA medicine there are much more complex conditions than one would experience in combat, often ones that require a more integrative type of approach. Plus, the Veterans Health Administration serves 9 million veterans and runs more than 1,200 health care facilities; this new responsibility is no match with and bears no resemblance to Mr. Jackson’s current or past responsibilities.
Although this more recent firing stemmed from the scandal around several ethics violations, Mr. Shulkin strongly claims he’s really been fired because he was trying to strengthen the VA and most importantly, was openly opposed to ongoing privatization attempts of the VA. As all of you might also know, for the past few years now there has been a strong push to privatize the VA, led by the organization called Concerned Veterans for America, funded by none other than (drum roll) the Koch Brothers.
Senators, there is no way a privatized VA system could provide better care for our veterans. Not only would dissolving the VA add veterans to the already struggling private medical sector but the VA, while in need of fixing, does offer affordable and equal or better healthcare than the private sector. Veterans cannot afford to lose the integrative care centers now run by the VA, such as the great rehabilitation centers or their top notch spinal cord centers, which provide our severely injured veterans with specialists to treat their very complex issues. Veterans fought hard for us and now it’s up to each of you to speak up, stand up and fight for them by strongly opposing this new appointment. Demand that the VA be fixed instead of dissolved. Demand that an experienced leader be placed at its helm and make decisions with our veterans in mind. In essence, do your job.