On June 23 the U.S. Senate confirmed Robert Wilkie as the new secretary of Veterans Affairs by an 86-9 majority vote.
Wilkie, who has led the VA in an interim capacity since the firing of former Secretary David Shulkin, lacks the medical background of his predecessor; however, he moves into the position with a long history in the military and defense. He most recently served as the undersecretary of Defense for personnel and readiness, and he has spent time in the Air Force and Navy reserves. Although he was confirmed with a clear bi-partisan majority, Wilkie’s nomination did not go through without exposing past controversial statements.
During his confirmation hearing, Wilkie expressed how his background would serve the VA population, stating, “Many of the issues I encountered as acting secretary were not with the quality of medical care but with getting our veterans through the door to reach that care.”
President Trump praised Wilkie in a White House statement that said, “I applaud the United States Senate for confirming Robert Wilkie as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Mr. Wilkie has dedicated his life to serving his country with honor and pride. He has displayed great patriotism and a commitment to supporting and empowering America’s armed forces and veterans. Under his leadership, I have no doubt that the Department of Veterans Affairs will continue to make strides in honoring and protecting the heroic men and women who have served our Nation with distinction.”