We recently elected Donald TrumpDonald TrumpBiden says Roe v. Wade under attack like 'never before' On student loans, Biden doesn't have an answer yet Grill company apologizes after sending meatloaf recipe on same day of rock star's death MORE on the theme of change. He promised to harness the best business minds in America and to drain the swamp of the incompetent politicians responsible for our country’s presumed failures. On veterans issues, the President-elect has declared that he will take care of the vets” and issued a 10-point plan — the first of which is to “Appoint a VA Secretary whose sole purpose will be to serve veterans [because] under a Trump Administration, the needs of D.C. bureaucrats will no longer be placed above those of our veterans.”
The leading candidate is outgoing rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fl.), a professional politician with no military service record.
For the past six years, rep. Miller has served as Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. The Phoenix wait-time scandal happened on his watch, as did the failed Choice Act. What did not happen were any of the reforms requested by Secretary Bob McDonald, a former Fortune 50 CEO, West Point graduate, and Army veteran.
At every turn, Miller has obstructed VA reform. He has pushed accountability solely onto the VA, but not accepted any of it himself. Despite all of this, it appears President-Elect Trump is soon to reward Miller with the stewardship of one of our country’s most important and unique departments.
The Secretary of the VA is not a typical cabinet position. S/he is in charge of over 360,000 personnel, a $170 billion budget, and our country’s largest integrated healthcare and benefits system. The VA is currently undergoing a massive transformation and is making fantastic progress, despite obstructionists like Miller.
To choose someone like Miller — someone who only criticizes the VA and thwarts progress at every turn—shows that veterans are a secondary consideration to the Trump administration. President-Elect Trump was correct in his campaign promise, that veterans deserve the best business minds and problem solvers of the world willing to care for and put the needs of veterans above their own.
Interestingly enough, this describes the current secretary, Bob McDonald, and Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson perfectly. It is the opposite, however, of a real-estate broker and deputy-sheriff from Florida turned professional politician.
I challenge president-elect Trump to look outside the box when selecting his next VA secretary. Some of the names on his VA transition team, like BG(ret) Mike Meese, give me hope that the VA will start off on the right foot in 2017. If president-elect Trump truly cares about who the next VA secretary is, I recommend that he contact the Veterans and Military Service Organizations: i.e. Vietnam Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans, AUSA, MOAA, etc.
They can, and are open to, providing guidance as to whom they believe is best suited to stewart the Department of Veterans of Affairs for the next four years.
Being that leadership starts from the top, if Miller is selected as the next secretary, the VA may find itself taking steps backwards instead of moving forward. Serving our veterans is a non-partisan action that requires dedication, foresight, and flexibility.
Terron Sims II is a fellow with the Truman National Security Project and a graduate of West Point, who served in the 1st Squadron, 2d Armored Cavalry Regiment in Baghdad and Wasit Province during Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2003 to 2004.