AMVETS National Headquarters, Jan. 27, 2020 – The Senate’s vote to confirm Denis McDonough as Secretary of Veterans Affairs now offers the VA a chance to regain the organizational stability needed during these unprecedented times to best serve veterans, AMVETS leadership announced today.
“We believe Denis McDonough is a leader with the knowledge and vision to deliver results,” Jan Brown, National Commander for AMVETS, said in a previous statement. “We hope he is up to the task to deliver results for our country’s greatest heroes and we support him in this endeavor.”
McDonough’s resume includes serving as an aide for the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs, senior foreign policy advisor, chief foreign policy advisor, as well as National Security Council’s head of strategic communication and Chief of Staff.
“Secretary McDonough has repeatedly reassured veteran organizations that he doesn’t expect the benefit of a doubt, going so far to say he is ready to earn our trust by working as hard as he can,” said Joe Chenelly, National Executive Director for AMVETS. “Denis McDonough has the know-how and relationships to move the entire federal government if needed to help veterans. That is an ability other VA secretaries have not had in the past.”
As AMVETS has stated previously, there are several issues within the veteran community VA needs to make tremendous strides in reforming, such as addressing mental health, healthcare for veterans in rural areas, sexual assault prevention on VA campuses, and obstacles women and minority veterans face.
No longer is it sufficient for the Department of Veterans Affairs to congratulate themselves on 1-2% gains when 6,000-plus veterans lose their lives every year. We need a paradigm shift with regards to mental health and suicide.
We can continue with the status quo, or we can create meaningful change. Reforming an ineffective and unproven mental health system at the Department of Veterans Affairs needs to be this administration’s number one priority. There is not a close second place when we are losing 6,000 veteran lives every year.
During McDonough’s confirmation hearing, Senators questioned the Secretary nominee about community care, and how much money and resources would be put forth to expand the program.
“I think the real policy push there, what the Senate is really caring about, is strikingly similar to what they’ve asked of the last two Secretaries, who both came in under the Trump administration, which is about community care,” said Chenelly. “I do think we will see growth within VA staff and we’ll see more veterans receiving their care from VA rather than partners in the community.”
Additionally, women and minority veterans need to enter a welcoming VA when they walk through the doors. The VA needs a new and fresh focus to ensure that becomes a reality. We believe placing a female in a top administration position at the VA is a good start to ensuring these issues are addressed. Our community is stronger with this diversity that also reflects our incredible community. VA is behind the ball and we need to fix it.
“We are ecstatic to collaborate on these issues with fresh VA leadership at the mantle, and are committed to working with VA and Secretary McDonough in better serving veterans,” said Brown.
AMVETS, which is also known as American Veterans, is the most inclusive Congressionally-chartered veterans service organization open to representing the interests of 20 million veterans and their families. We are veterans serving veterans since 1944. amvets.org
Contact: Miles Migliara, National Communications Manager, AMVETS
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