WASHINGTON—The U.S. Senate today unanimously confirmed Robert McDonald, the former Procter and Gamble president and CEO, as Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
The previous secretary, Eric Shinseki, resigned in May after a series of revelations about mismanagement at the VA that led to veterans’ inability to get the care they needed.
Despite the challenges that lay ahead in leading the VA, McDonald told lawmakers at a Senate Veterans Affairs hearing to consider his nomination that he “desperately” wanted the job because he thought he could “make a difference.”
“I think there is no higher calling and I think this is an opportunity for me to make a difference in the lives of the veterans who I care so deeply about,” he said.
McDonald is a West Point graduate and served as an Airborne Ranger Infantry Officer in the 82nd Airborne Division prior to a career in the private sector. He was nominated by President Barack Obama for the VA secretary job in late June.
After the 97-0 vote, the president said he applauded “the overwhelming, bipartisan confirmation of Bob McDonald as our next Secretary of Veterans Affairs. As a veteran himself and a proud member of a military family, Bob is deeply committed to serving our veterans and their families. And as an executive with decades of private-sector experience, he is uniquely equipped to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, and to help change the way the VA does business.
“As a country, we have a solemn duty to serve our veterans as well as they have served us. I know Bob will help us honor that commitment and make sure every veteran gets the care they deserve, the benefits they’ve earned, and the chance to pursue the American Dream they’ve risked so much to protect.”
McDonald told lawmakers at his nomination hearing that caring for veterans was “personal” for him.
“I come from and care deeply for military families. My father served in the Army Air Corps after World War II. My wife’s father was shot down over Europe and survived harsh treatment as a POW. Her uncle was exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam and still receives care from VA. My nephew is right now in the Air Force, deployed in the Middle East,” he explained.
At that hearing McDonald vowed that if confirmed he would “take a series of immediate actions over the first 90 days to deliver the needed reforms our veterans deserve.”
Sloan Gibson has been serving as acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs since Shinseki’s resignation and has put in place a series of reforms.