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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.
Retired Army Master Sgt. Mark Allen has died 10 years after he was shot in the head while searching for deserter Pvt. Bowe Bergdahl in Afghanistan.
Allen died on Saturday at the age of 46, according to funeral information posted online.
For U.S. service members who have fought alongside the Kurds, President Donald Trump's decision to approve repositioning U.S. forces in Syria ahead of Turkey's invasion is a naked betrayal of valued allies.
"I am ashamed for the first time in my career," one unnamed special operator told Fox News Jennifer Griffin.
In a Twitter thread that went viral, Griffin wrote the soldier told her the Kurds were continuing to support the United States by guarding tens of thousands of ISIS prisoners even though Turkey had nullified an arrangement under which U.S. and Turkish troops were conducting joint patrols in northeastern Syria to allow the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, to withdraw.
"The Kurds are sticking by us," the soldier told Griffin. "No other partner I have ever dealt with would stand by us."
Most of the U.S. troops in Syria are being moved out of the country as Turkish forces and their Arab allies push further into Kurdish territory than originally expected, Task & Purpose has learned.
Roughly 1,000 U.S. troops are withdrawing from Syria, leaving a residual force of between 100 and 150 service members at the Al Tanf garrison, a U.S. official said.
"I spoke with the president last night after discussions with the rest of the national security team and he directed that we begin a deliberate withdrawal of forces from northern Syria," Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Sunday's edition of CBS News' "Face the Nation."'
More than 700 women and children affiliated with ISIS escape Kurdish prison camp after Turkish shelling
BEIRUT/ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Women affiliated with Islamic State and their children fled en masse from a camp where they were being held in northern Syria on Sunday after shelling by Turkish forces in a five-day-old offensive, the region's Kurdish-led administration said.
Turkey's cross-border attack in northern Syria against Kurdish forces widened to target the town of Suluk which was hit by Ankara's Syrian rebel allies. There were conflicting accounts on the outcome of the fighting.
Turkey is facing threats of possible sanctions from the United States unless it calls off the incursion. Two of its NATO allies, Germany and France, have said they are halting weapons exports to Turkey. The Arab League has denounced the operation.
Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is warning that it's "absolutely a given" that ISIS will come back if the U.S. doesn't keep up pressure on the group, just one week after President Trump announced the withdrawal of U.S. military forces from northern Syria.
"It's in a situation of disarray right now. Obviously the Kurds are adapting to the Turkish attacks, and we'll have to see if they're able to maintain the fight against ISIS," Mattis said in an interview on NBC's "Meet The Press," set to air on Sunday. "It's going to have an impact. The question is how much?"