Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
The son of a soldier wounded during the Vietnam War, he claims he was born in “khaki diapers.” Now, former Department of Defense under secretary for personnel and readiness Robert Wilkie seems poised to wade into the mess that is the Department of Veterans Affairs — and, if all goes according to plan, restore good order and discipline to the troubled agency.
It’s been an awkwardly long time coming, but as of yesterday afternoon embattled Veterans Affairs secretary David Shulkin is out of a job. The news comes after a month and a half of uncertainty that began when a scathing inspector general report detailed “serious derelictions” in expensing a Europe trip last summer. And then there were all the accusations and counter accusations of political infighting and rumors of possible replacements — at least all that is over:
It’s a brave new world in 2018. President Donald Trump’s administration has been largely characterized by the same freewheeling, no-fucks-given bravado of the 2016 election cycle: Twitter rants are daily fodder for the news cycle, lurid stories of old trysts with adult film stars (somehow) merit the “60 Minutes” treatment, and hardly a week goes by without a cabinet member being fired or humiliated or both.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has never enjoyed a reputation for doing its job well, no matter who was in charge — doctor, CEO, or soldier, Democrat or Republican.
Last June, during a hearing before the U.S. Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., declared that there were no serious legislative proposals on the table to enrich or ensure the quality of care at the Department of Veterans Affairs. She noted that the only bills in play would further weaken the agency by steering more dollars, and veterans, into the private healthcare market.