Vets groups urge Trump to keep current VA secretary

Vets groups urge Trump to keep current VA secretary
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A group of 20 veterans organizations on Wednesday sent a letter to President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpIvanka Trump pens op-ed on kindergartners learning tech Bharara, Yates tamp down expectations Mueller will bring criminal charges Overnight Cybersecurity: Equifax security employee left after breach | Lawmakers float bill to reform warrantless surveillance | Intel leaders keeping collusion probe open MORE asking him and his transition team to "strongly consider" keeping on Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald.  

"While you continue your deliberations over who you will select to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, we ask you to strongly consider the proven track record of the current VA Secretary, Bob McDonald, who is leading the largest transformation in the department’s history," the groups said in the letter. 

They said over the past two years McDonald has led an agency-wide transformation of the VA, which is showing "early signs of success."  

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"It is therefore of the utmost importance that you select someone willing and able to continue prioritization of this work. We believe that person is Sec. McDonald," they added. 

The groups highlighted McDonald's MyVA initiative, which is consolidating more than 500 existing VA websites into a single platform where veterans can check claim statuses, manage healthcare and access education benefits and career training.  

They said the VA is modernizing its more than 200 call centers and launching a single telephone number through which veterans can reach any office at the VA. 

The VA came under nationwide criticism in 2014 after news outlets uncovered the systemic doctoring of records to hide long wait times for appointments for veterans. 

The scandal led to the resignation of then-VA Secretary Eric ShinsekiEric ShinsekiHouse approves VA bill, sending it to Trump Senate backs bill making it easier to fire VA employees Shulkin confirmed to lead Dept. of Veterans Affairs MORE.

McDonald, an Army veteran and former CEO of Procter & Gamble, was brought in to make sweeping changes in the wake of the scandal. Although he came under criticism after comparing VA wait times to lines at Disneyland at a breakfast with reporters in May, he has been well-received by veterans groups. 

“Transforming an agency as large and diverse as VA will take a continuous commitment from leadership over the course of many years. As you make your selection for VA Secretary, then, we advocate for an approach that recognizes and builds upon current progress. Given the challenges we face, we cannot afford to start over," the groups said in the letter. 

The groups signing the letter included Got Your 6, AMVETS, Community Solutions, Give An Hour, Institute for Veterans & Military Families, Marine Corps Reserve Association, Military Child Education Coalition, Military Chaplains Association, National Association of Drug Court Professionals/Justice For Vets, National Association of Veteran-Serving Organizations, National Military Family Association, Veterans and Military Programs, Points of Light, Service Women’s Action Network, The Mission Continues, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, Travis Manion Foundation, Veteran Artist Program, Warrior-Scholar Project and Wounded Warrior Project, Inc.

Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownDems plan to make gun control an issue in Nevada Mandel leads GOP primary for Ohio Senate seat: internal poll Red-state Dems need more from Trump before tax embrace MORE (D-Ohio) also supports McDonald staying on, as well as veteran service organizations American Legion and Disabled American Veterans, according to a report by The Cincinnati Enquirer on Wednesday. 

PR LettertoPresident ElectTrump by Kristina Wong on Scribd