“It’s integrity, it’s advocacy, it’s respect, it’s excellence. These are the things that we try to do for our veterans.” Those are the words as well as the actions Robert McDonald have taken in his very short time as Secretary of the VA. It appears veterans under the Veteran’s Administration (VA) system of care have something to smile about this Veteran’s Day. Secretary “Bob” (as he prefers to be addressed) outlined his vision for righting the VA ship in last night’s 60 Minutes Story “Cleaning Up the VA”.
The reason his plan just may work comes from his 33 years of working through the ranks to the top leadership role of Proctor and Gamble, in a customer focused industry. This brings hope for breaking up the bureaucratic gridlock that has paralyzed the efficiency and effectiveness of most of our nation’s public services in the past generation. Another bright light is that Secretary McDonald is a West Point graduate, and served five years in the Army. He stated during the interview that he feels his whole life has been leading up to this position. Another positive is the collaborative relationship he is developing with his former West Point classmate and Deputy VA Secretary, Sloan Gibson. The problems with the VA system are bigger than one person, and from last night’s CBS story, as a veteran who utilizes the VA system, I am encouraged by the insight and direction he shared with the American people. My biggest concern is whether or not the bureaucracy will allow him to take the necessary actions to restoring the sense of “Duty, Honor and Country” into the system designed to serve veterans in their time of need.