Nominee for Veterans Affair Secretary introduced

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) presented the nominee for Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

Brown is a senior member of the committee. Last week, he met with the nominee, Robert “Bob” McDonald, a veteran and former CEO of Procter and Gamble. McDonald graduated from West Point Military Academy and served as a paratrooper in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division.

During McDonald’s introduction to the committee, Brown spoke on the current disillusionment with the VA.

“In the last few months, I’ve received letters and calls from Ohioans about fixing the VA system for our veterans,” he said. “They are rightfully angry with a system charged with caring for those who have defended our nation. There has been a failure of leadership and accountability, and it is up to us to fix this.”

Brown revealed some of what was discussed during his initial meeting with McDonald. The nominee spoke of the military’s honor code, and how he believes that sense of integrity is necessary for the VA to improve.

“As a graduate of West Point and as an Army captain, Mr. McDonald has led men and women like those receiving care at the VA. And as a business executive, he has led a multi-billion dollar corporation through the Great Recession,” Brown said. “Adept at navigating complex situations, Mr. McDonald will now will lead the federal department tasked with fulfilling our obligations to our veterans.”

McDonald received a warm welcome and was unanimously supported by the committee. A full Senate vote will likely take place sometime next week.

If he is confirmed, McDonald would take over from Sloan Gibson, who has been the interim VA secretary since Eric Shinseki’s resignation following the scandals about falsified appointment wait times and fake records.

In other veterans’ news, Sen. Brown held a conference call on Wednesday to announce the Significant Event Tracker (SET) Act of 2014. If passed, the legislation would help veterans suffering from war-related injuries claim their benefits. Brown worked with U.S Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (IL-8) and Michael Fairman, a Columbus combat veteran.

Sen. Brown was joined on Wednesday’s conference call by Rep. Duckworth and Fairman. It was noted that the SET Act was formed in response to the fact that nearly 300,000 American veterans are currently struggling with Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) and another 25,000 veterans are dealing with mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBI).

Currently, a lack of documentation can lead to veterans finding it difficult to provide evidence to the VA that proves their injuries are related to military service. The SET Act is intended to help service members track potential exposures during their deployment that could later be connected to mental health issues and mTBI. Through an SET Tracker, service members would be able to document individual in-depth reports in an easier manner.

“By creating an individualized SET, events that are not currently documented through physical injuries, awards, or other service related means will now be added to that individual’s service or military records,” a press release from Sen. Brown’s office explained.

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