Veteran Groups Rally Behind VA Secretary David Shulkin

David Shulkin’s job could be in jeopardy after a major ethics controversy, a resignation request by GOP Representative Mike Coffman, and rumors of internal fighting with the White House.

Shulkin has been in hot water for taking his wife on a taxpayer-funded 10 day trip to Europe.

The VA’s inspector general recently released the devastating results of an investigation into Shulkin’s trip. It found his chief-of-staff altered an email and made false statements to a department ethics official that led to taxpayers covering expenses for Shulkin’s wife.

Now, several veteran advocacy groups are coming to support the Trump-appointed VA secretary.

“We hold the VA to a high standard—its leadership even more so,” Disabled American Veterans National Commander Delphine Metcalf-Foster wrote. “While we were troubled to learn of the recent IG findings, we believe Secretary Shulkin took appropriate steps in reimbursing the department for any and all financial obligations found to be outside the scope of his official travel.”

“We have been encouraged by the great progress Secretary Shulkin has made and believe that he remains the best person to lead this important federal public institution on the behalf of the American people,” American Legion National Commander Denise Rohan said in a statement Monday.

“What the VA needs in order to progress is stability in leadership,” said Kris Goldsmith, assistant director of policy at Vietnam Veterans of America. It’s a tremendous organization, and it takes an immense amount of time and energy to truly understand it. Dr. Shulkin knows that system, and his continued leadership is essential to reforming the VA so that our nation fulfills its promises to its veterans.”

“Secretary Shulkin has worked with us throughout his time at the helm, and he’s been successful in leading significant changes and laying the tracks for more important reform,” AMVETS National Executive Director Joe Chenelly said on Sunday.

”This political infighting must stop, so we also support full transparency about what is really going on,” Veterans of Foreign Wars Executive Director Bob Wallace said in a statement. “The mission of VA is too important to have this type of behavior impacting employee morale and the trust of veterans in their VA.”

 

GOP Congressman Demands VA Secretary David Shulkin To Resign

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) asked VA Secretary David Shulkin to resign on Wednesday and requested employees responsible for the construction of a new VA hospital in Aurora, Colorado to be fired.

Coffman criticized the Trump-appointed VA secretary for taking his wife on a taxpayer-funded 10 day trip to Europe.

The VA’s inspector general released devastating results of an investigation into Shulkin’s trip. It found his chief-of-staff altered an email and made false statements to a department ethics official that led to taxpayers covering expenses for Shulkin’s wife.

Shulkin claims his chief-of-staff was hacked.

Shulkin acknowledged “the optics of this are not good,” and expressed “regret” over the decision.

Coffman also pointed out the people who are overseeing the construction of the new Aurora VA Hospital, which has been delayed for years and is extremely over budget thanks to screw-ups, still have their jobs.

“The people who have their fingerprints over this stuff are the same people who are there,” Coffman said Thursday morning. “I want to encourage you without legislation, if it requires it then we need to move it forward, that you need to find these people another job – hopefully somewhere outside of the federal government.”

 

President Trump Asked To Fire VA Employee Caught Abusing $950,000

The Office of Special Counsel contacted President Donald Trump Thursday, requesting that the president terminate a Massachusetts VA employee who was caught pocketing $950,000 to herself in 2015.

VA employees Heather Garneau-Harvey and her father Dennis Garneau charged their own family company $200,000 for snow removal and $750,000 for landscaping.

They were caught when someone else at the VA realized that none of the materials were actually arriving.

A whistleblower named Kevin Cornellier contacted the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), an independent federal investigative and prosecutorial agency, which launched an investigation into the matter in 2015.

At first, the perpetrators claimed to not know that the company was owned by the brother, which was contradicted by their own emails.

Her father resigned from federal service in 2015.

Garneau-Harvey was reassigned to another division at the Bedford VA hospital and
demoted two years later.

“By allowing an employee who engaged in this conduct to remain with the agency, the VA demonstrates a shocking degree of indifference to government ethical standards, procurement regulations, and public integrity,” Special Counsel Henry Kerner wrote to President Trump.

VA Secretary David Shulkin, who visited the Bedford VA in November, blamed the lack of a permanent director and instability for many of the hospital’s problems. Bedford hasn’t had a permanent director since 2016.

Read The Extraordinary Story Of The WWII Veteran Who Tossed The Coin For Super Bowl 52

Marine veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Hershel “Woody” Williams tossed the coin at Super Bowl 52 on Sunday.

Williams served in the 21st Marines, 3d Marine Division while fighting Japanese forces in World War II at the Battle of Iwo Jima.

His citation reads:

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as demolition sergeant serving with the 21st Marines, 3d Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, 23 February 1945. Quick to volunteer his services when our tanks were maneuvering vainly to open a lane for the infantry through the network of reinforced concrete pillboxes, buried mines, and black volcanic sands, Cpl. Williams daringly went forward alone to attempt the reduction of devastating machinegun fire from the unyielding positions. Covered only by 4 riflemen, he fought desperately for 4 hours under terrific enemy small-arms fire and repeatedly returned to his own lines to prepare demolition charges and obtain serviced flamethrowers, struggling back, frequently to the rear of hostile emplacements, to wipe out 1 position after another. On 1 occasion, he daringly mounted a pillbox to insert the nozzle of his flamethrower through the air vent, killing the occupants and silencing the gun; on another he grimly charged enemy riflemen who attempted to stop him with bayonets and destroyed them with a burst of flame from his weapon. His unyielding determination and extraordinary heroism in the face of ruthless enemy resistance were directly instrumental in neutralizing one of the most fanatically defended Japanese strong points encountered by his regiment and aided vitally in enabling his company to reach its objective. Cpl. Williams’ aggressive fighting spirit and valiant devotion to duty throughout this fiercely contested action sustain and enhance the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.”

 

The Daily Caller noted that this occurred on the same day that American forces raised the American flag at Iwo Jima.

 

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He is the only living Marine Corps Medal of Honor recipient from World War II. He and only three other soldiers of any branch are the only living Medal of Honor recipients from that war.

UCLA, VA Launch First-Of-Its-Kind Family Wellness Center, New Legal Clinic For Veterans

By Allison Hewitt with UCLA

…The expanded UCLA–VA partnership aims to fill gaps in care, especially by going beyond the superficial symptoms of the challenges veterans face and treating the problems at their roots.

The new family wellness center is the first facility on a VA campus to offer resilience services for veterans’ families. UCLA staff provides parenting classes, caregiver support and other training to meet the unique needs of military families. At the legal clinic, professors and students from the UCLA School of Law help veterans address tickets and access their health and education benefits. Both opened in August on the West L.A. VA campus.

Read more…