In the first press conference President-elect Donald Trump has held since June, he revealed that current Undersecretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Dr. David Shulkin, has been tapped to lead the department. Trump told the press that he had interviewed some 100 candidates before selecting Shulkin.
"He's fantastic," Trump said of Shulkin at the press conference, reports CNBC. "He will do a truly great job."
The Trump Transition team released a statement on Jan. 11:
I have no doubt Dr. Shulkin will be able to lead the turnaround our Department of Veterans Affairs needs. His sole mandate will be to serve our veterans and restore the level of care we owe to our brave men and women in the military. ... Sadly our great veterans have not gotten the level of care they deserve, but Dr. Shulkin has the experience and the vision to ensure we will meet the healthcare needs of every veteran. Dr. Shulkin is an incredibly gifted doctor who is using his elite talents for medicine to care for our heroes, and Americans can have faith he will get the job done right.
In a 2016 interview with NPR, Shulkin was asked about reports that veterans are waiting months at a time before receiving medical care and treatment through the VA.
"The first responsibility that we have to our veterans is to make sure those that need urgent care are getting care on time," Shulkin responded. "This is a different VA. We've brought in people from the outside who have private sector experience. And what we're saying is that we have to do business differently. ... We know how to make this program work better."
According to Politico, Trump's search for a VA secretary led to several rejections, including from veterans' advocates and healthcare executives, before landing on Shulkin.
"One of the commitments I've made is that we're going to straighten out the whole situation for our veterans," Trump said at his Jan. 11 press conference. "Our veterans have been treated horribly."