Who is VA Secretary Robert Wilkie and where does he stand?
On Monday, after months of vacancy, the United States Senate approved President Trump’s nomination of Robert Wilkie as Secretary of Veterans Affairs. But who is VA secretary Robert Wilkie and where does he stand on the issues most important to America’s veterans?
Who is new VA Secretary Robert Wilkie and where does he stand?
Robert Wilkie has more than 20 years’ experience at both the national and international levels. He holds an Honors degree from Wake Forest University; Juris Doctor from Loyola University of Law in New Orleans; Master of Laws in International and Comparative Law from Georgetown University and a Masters in Strategic Studies from the United States Army War College.
During the George W. Bush Administration, Wilkie served as Assistant Secretary of Defense from 2005-2009, and was the youngest senior leader in the Department. Prior to his first Pentagon tour, he was Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and a senior director of the National Security Council. Wilkie also has extensive experience in the United States Congress including recent service as Senior Advisor as well as being Counsel and Advisor on International Security Affairs to the Majority Leader of the United States Senate.
Wilkie was also a reserve officer in the United States Air Force Reserve assigned to the Office of the Chief of Staff. Prior to joining the Air Force, he served in the United States Navy Reserve with the Joint Forces Intelligence Command, Naval Special Warfare Group Two and the Office of Naval Intelligence.
Views on VA privatization
Mr. Wilkie’s nomination was not without controversy. Senator Bernie Sanders made history by opposing the move to motion Wilkie as a nominee. In fact, it is the first time in committee history that a member has voted against the VA secretary nominee. Sanders also stood by his vow to against Wilkie when his faced a full vote by the Senate, citing his concerns over Wilkie’s beliefs on VA privatization.
Privatization of VA continues to be a major point of controversy. In fact, former VA Secretary David Shulkin said it played a role in his firing earlier this year. Wilkie, for his part, believes there are areas where private partnerships are needed and make sense.
“VA health care should be centered around what is best for that individual veteran and should be integrated, agile and adaptive,” said Wilkie. “In some cases that requires VA medical facility care, and in other cases it requires community care.”
The bottom line is this position has been vacant for far too long. Wilkie has a lot to deal with as there have been a controversies, accusations and scandals to boot.
We hope that Wilkie will prove to be a transformational VA secretary who will put the needs of veterans first. Whether this means expanding private partnerships, administrative turnover and so forth. He has his work cut out for him, but we hope he will be able to get the job done and done right for those who have served our great country.
Image Credit: United States Department of Veterans Affairs (https://www.va.gov/opa/bios/secva.asp), via Wikimedia Commons