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Begich: New VA Secretary will have Authority, Resources to Overhaul VA Health System

Senate Votes to Confirm Robert McDonald as New Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs

U.S. Senator Mark Begich voted to support the confirmation of Robert McDonald for the position of Secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) today, noting that Secretary McDonald will soon be equipped with the authority and resources he needs to fix the overburdened VA health system.

“Robert McDonald impressed me as a tough manager who will hold people accountable,” said Begich. “He may shake things up a little at the VA but that’s okay with me—we need to change the way we do business in order to get our veterans the care they deserve.”

Begich noted the VA conference committee made important progress today toward final funding for Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014.  When approved, this legislation will provide Secretary McDonald with the tools he needs to start fixing the broken VA health system.  McDonald will have new authority to get rid of the senior officials who are contributing to red tape and waitlist bottlenecks and the funds to hire desperately needed doctors, nurses and mental health professionals.

“The VA health system needs an overhaul and Robert McDonald is the right man for the job,” said Begich. “During his committee confirmation, I told him to get in there, to be aggressive, and to take charge.  And I will use my seat on the Veterans Affairs Committee to hold him accountable each and every step of the way.”  


Begich questions McDonald at a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on July 23. (video here)

McDonald, who brings a combination of military services and private-sector expertise to the job, was confirmed by the Senate today by a bipartisan vote of 97-0.

Begich has been a champion for veterans’ issues and has been recognized for his work by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the Order of the Purple Heart and the Disabled American Veterans.  For more information about Begich’s extensive work on veterans’ issues in Alaska please visit his Senate website.

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