Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
Trump Is Eyeing This Double-Amputee Army Veteran To Lead The VA
President Donald Trump is considering Palm City Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Mast for the position of Veterans Affairs secretary, a position still vacant after White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson withdrew his controversial nomination for the post last month.
In a statement released Thursday afternoon, Mast said, "It is an honor to be considered to serve my fellow veterans and their families at the highest possible level."
Mast is among the list of candidates for the job heading an agency of 360,000 employees serving 9 million veterans.
White House officials have met with former Florida Rep. Jeff Miller, a Republican who once led the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, according to the Associated Press.
Ironically, President Donald Trump asked Mast's opinion of possible candidates during a dinner in December at the Mar-a-Lago Club. Mast put in a good word for Miller.
"He's obviously seen all the issues that have come through in terms of constituents," Mast said of Miller. "I don't think there's somebody else that's on the shortlist ... that has more experience with seeing the complaints first-hand. I would be very hopeful for a man like Jeff Miller to fill that role."
Mast, 37, lives in Palm City with his wife Brianna and three school-age children, Magnum, Maverick and Madeline. According to his congressional profile page, Mast earned a degree from the Harvard Extension School. The type of degree and his major are not listed and his profile does not include any experience in hospital management.
Mast is the first member of Congress to open a satellite office in a VA facility, setting up shop in the West Palm Beach VA to meet with veterans. He was wounded while serving in Afghanistan in 2010, which resulted in the amputation of both of his legs.
White House officials have also met with another candidate, Ron Nichol, a senior adviser to The Boston Consulting Group, who helped organize the president's transition. Acting VA Secretary Robert Wilkie, a former Pentagon undersecretary for personnel and readiness, and Samuel Spagnolo, the president of the National Association of Veterans Affairs Physicians and Dentists, are also under consideration for the post, according to the AP report.
VA officials have told some veterans groups they are preparing for the possibility that the agency won't have a permanent VA secretary in place for another three months as Trump mulls over replacement candidates.
The VA faces problems demanding immediate attention, including a multi-billion dollar revamp of electronic medical records now in limbo that members of Congress fear will prove too costly and wasteful, and a budget shortfall in the coming weeks in its private-sector Veterans Choice program.
The House is slated to vote on a wide-ranging bill next week that would give veterans more freedom to see doctors outside the VA health system and fill the budget shortfall, a major step toward fulfilling Trump's promise to expand private care for veterans.
The VA post became vacant after Trump fired VA Secretary David Shulkin earlier this year. Trump's first choice for the top VA post, Jackson, withdrew in April.
©2018 The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Fla.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
A U.S. Air Force combat controller will receive the nation's third highest award for valor this week for playing an essential role in two intense firefight missions against the Taliban in Afghanistan last year.
Tech. Sgt. Cody Smith, an airman with the 26th Special Tactics Squadron, 24th Special Operations Wing at Air Force Special Operations Command, will receive the Silver Star at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico on Nov. 22, the service announced Monday.
SARASOTA, Fla. — With data continuing to roll in that underscores the health benefits of cannabis, two Florida legislators aren't waiting for clarity in the national policy debates and are sponsoring bills designed to give medical marijuana cards to military veterans free of charge.
Former Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, whom President Donald Trump recently pardoned of his 2013 murder conviction, claims he was nothing more than a pawn whom generals sacrificed for political expediency.
The infantry officer had been sentenced to 19 years in prison for ordering his soldiers to open fire on three unarmed Afghan men in 2012. Two of the men were killed.
During a Monday interview on Fox & Friends, Lorance accused his superiors of betraying him.
"A service member who knows that their commanders love them will go to the gates of hell for their country and knock them down," Lorance said. "I think that's extremely important. Anybody who is not part of the senior Pentagon brass will tell you the same thing."
"I think folks that start putting stars on their collar — anybody that has got to be confirmed by the Senate for a promotion — they are no longer a soldier, they are a politician," he continued. "And so I think they lose some of their values — and they certainly lose a lot of their respect from their subordinates — when they do what they did to me, which was throw me under the bus."
Fifteen years after the U.S. military toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein, the Army's massive two-volume study of the Iraq War closed with a sobering assessment of the campaign's outcome: With nearly 3,500 U.S. service members killed in action and trillions of dollars spent, "an emboldened and expansionist Iran appears to be the only victor.
Thanks to roughly 700 pages of newly-publicized secret Iranian intelligence cables, we now have a good idea as to why.
BANGKOK (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Mark Esper expressed confidence on Sunday in the U.S. military justice system's ability to hold troops to account, two days after President Donald Trump pardoned two Army officers accused of war crimes in Afghanistan.
Trump also restored the rank of a Navy SEAL platoon commander who was demoted for actions in Iraq.
Asked how he would reassure countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq in the wake of the pardons, Esper said: "We have a very effective military justice system."
"I have great faith in the military justice system," Esper told reporters during a trip to Bangkok, in his first remarks about the issue since Trump issued the pardons.