President Trump has announced that he intends to nominate Dr. Ronny Jackson to replace Dr. David Shulkin, who has been U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs since Feb. 14, 2017. President Trump and his administration have initiated several programs throughout the VA, intended to shake up the notoriously problematic system charged with caring for our nation’s veterans. Dr. Shulkin had worked as the Under Secretary of Veterans Affairs for Health in the Obama Administration, and was nominated by President Trump in Jan. 2017 for the Secretary of Veterans Affairs position, and now it seems Dr. Jackson is to take his place.
I am pleased to announce that I intend to nominate highly respected Admiral Ronny L. Jackson, MD, as the new Secretary of Veterans Affairs….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2018
Dr. Ronny Jackson is an admiral in the United States Navy (joined in 1995), and he has served as the Physician to the President for Presidents Obama and Trump. The Physician to the President is charged in charge of the medical staff in the White House that serves not only the President himself, but the Vice President, staff in the White House and anyone passing through. They typically oversee five doctors, five nurses, five PAs, three medics, one IT specialist and three administrative staffers. Primarily, the Physician to the President is there to keep the President of the United States healthy, thereby empowering him to lead the country effectively.
Dr. Jackson has a varied history in medicine — ranging from the emergency room to working with hyperbaric medicine in the world of submarines. He has deployed to Iraq, and has achieved many awards, including but not limited to: the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (with three gold stars), the Navy Diver Medical Officer Badge, the Parachutist Badge and the Presidential Service Badge.
The current controversy over the selection of Dr. Jackson’s nomination seems to come from several places: many see him to be unfit for the job, as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs is not a medical practice — it’s a managerial position. They claim that his current managerial experience is inadequate. Others also point to his controversial announcement after his physical of President Trump, saying that his health “is excellent,” and that his “cardiac performance during his physical exam was very good.” Many disputed these claims, insisting that the president is unhealthy.
However, others point to the fact that there will now be a member of the United States military, with substantial experience, running the Department of Veterans Affairs. The system is in major need of some serious overhaul, and some think that a non-politician might be the right person for the job — particularly a service member.
Either way, lawyer Robert Wilkie is currently the acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs until the decision is actually made official.
Featured image courtesy of the Associated Press.