WASHINGTON — The nominee for new VA secretary has served as the White House physician for the last three presidential administrations.
The nomination of Rear Adm. Ronny L. Jackson, MD, was announced in tweet posted March 28 by President Donald J. Trump. In revealing the ouster of David Shulkin, MD, Trump said he was “thankful” for Shulkin’s “service to our country and to our GREAT VETERANS!.”
The president also said Robert Wilkie of DoD would serve as acting secretary. Wilkie is the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. He is the principal advisor to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense for Total Force Management as it relates to readiness; National Guard and Reserve component affairs; health affairs; training; and personnel requirements and management, including equal opportunity, morale, welfare, recreation, and the quality of life for military families.
Shulkin, a holdover from the previous presidential administration, served as Under Secretary of Veterans Affairs for Health from 2015 until 2017 when he became VA Secretary. Speculation about whether Trump planned to fire Shulkin had been rampant in recent weeks, although a few day ago the president indicated that was not imminent.
The controversy stemmed from a recent VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) report found that Shulkin misused funds on a European trip last summer. The report recommended that the secretary repay more than $4,000 spent on his wife’s airplane ticket.
Shortly after those details came out, news reports also suggested that some administration officials wanted Shulkin fired. Jackson, a native Texan, is a board-certified emergency physician. He has been the Chief White House Physician for both Obama and Trump.