In an op-ed published late Wednesday night , outgoing Veteran’s Affairs Secretary David Shulkin ripped into the “toxic” politicized nature of Washington, D.C., saying the atmosphere in the nation’s capitol makes it near impossible to get anything done, and that he was forced out because he opposed privatization of veterans’ services.
Following President Donald Trump’s dismissal of Shulkin — to be replaced by the president’s personal physician, Rear Adm. Ronny L. Jackson — the outgoing administrator wrote in the New York Times that it had “been my greatest professional honor to serve our country’s more than 20 million veterans,” before touting his accomplishments.
He then turned to why it was difficult for him to fulfill the mission of the V.A., blaming the political culture in the U.S. , as well as members of Congress who want to privatize services for veterans.
“It seems that these successes within the department have intensified the ambitions of people who want to put V.A. health care in the hands of the private sector,” Shulkin wrote. “I believe differences in philosophy deserve robust debate, and solutions should be determined based on the merits of the arguments. The advocates within the administration for privatizing V.A. health services, however, reject this approach.”
“They saw me as an obstacle to privatization who had to be removed. That is because I am convinced that privatization is a political issue aimed at rewarding select people and companies with profits, even if it undermines care for veterans,” he added.
“I have fought to stand up for this great department and all that it embodies,” Shulkin wrote. “In recent months, though, the environment in Washington has turned so toxic, chaotic, disrespectful and subversive that it became impossible for me to accomplish the important work that our veterans need and deserve. I can assure you that I will continue to speak out against those who seek to harm the V.A. by putting their personal agendas in front of the well-being of our veterans.”
“I came to government with an understanding that Washington can be ugly, but I assumed that I could avoid all of the ugliness by staying true to my values. I have been falsely accused of things by people who wanted me out of the way. But despite these politically-based attacks on me and my family’s character, I am proud of my record and know that I acted with the utmost integrity. Unfortunately, none of that mattered,” he wrote before concluding, “As I prepare to leave government, I am struck by a recurring thought: It should not be this hard to serve your country.”
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