Another day, another abhorrent comment about mental health from Donald Trump. This time the Republican presidential nominee targeted veteran’s mental health ― particularly those vets experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder. Veterans are not weak for having a mental health disorder. And it’s insulting to equate strength with not having a mental health issue after returning from combat.
On Wednesday, President Trump fired Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin and said he’d replace him with White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson, a rear admiral in the Navy. Dr. Jackson has no experience running a large agency. Shulkin says he’s actually being ousted because of his opposition to privatizing the VA, which runs 1,700 hospitals and clinics.
Ahead of Robert Wilkie’s likely confirmation to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, Trump loyalists at the agency are taking aggressive steps to purge or reassign staff perceived to be disloyal to President Trump and his agenda for veterans, according to multiple people familiar with the moves. The transfers include more than a dozen career civil servants who have been moved from the leadership suite at VA headquarters and reassigned to lower-visibility roles. The employees served agency leaders, some dating back more than two decades, in crucial support roles that help a new secretary.
Trump’s strong condemnation of the Obama administration’s handling of
the backlog of hundreds of thousands of veteran benefits claims made him
the overwhelming choice for many veteran voters in 2016. But after two years in the White House, the Trump administration has
decided to execute a plan to purge 200,000 applications for VA
healthcare caused by known administrative errors within VA’s enrollment process and enrollment system — problems that had already been documented by the Office of the Inspector General in 2015 and 2017.
The Department of Veterans Affairs moved to fire a whistleblowing psychologist, Aghevli, one day before her House testimony. Aghevli has made disclosures that she said led department
officials to dismiss her, despite her Gold VA Pins for excellent
customer service. Aghevli’s allegations are
serious. They include phony-wait-list assertions of the type that have
bedeviled VA since it was consumed by a scandal that broke in 2014. She
also accused department officials of lying to Congress.