WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) met with Robert Wilkie, President Trump’s nominee to be the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). During the meeting, Sen. Warner and Wilkie discussed the need to reform the VA without privatizing the system, improve care for veterans at VA facilities, and continue reducing wait times for veteran patients.
“The VA’s mission is one of the most important, and difficult jobs of all of our federal agencies,” said Sen. Warner. “As VA Secretary, Mr. Wilkie’s leadership will be essential in continuing to reform and strengthen the VA to ensure that it provides the very best care to our veterans.”
Virginia is home to three VA medical centers that serve the Commonwealth’s veteran population: McGuire VA Medical Center (Richmond), Hampton VA Medical Center, and Salem VA Medical Center.
In the Senate, Sen. Warner spearheaded a bipartisan effort to approve overdue VA medical leases, including two new outpatient clinics in Hampton Roads and Fredericksburg, a measure which Congress approved last year. He also led a legislative effort to restore tax payments to combat-injured veterans, which resulted in more than 133,000 notifications sent to veterans by the Department of Defense (DoD). Recently, he pressed the VA on critical failures that have endangered veterans at the D.C. Medical Center and the quality of care at nursing homes in Virginia and across the country.
Mr. Wilkie, a native of Fayetteville, North Carolina, currently serves as the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, a position he was nominated to by President Trump and approved unanimously by the Senate. Wilkie previously served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs under Defense Secretaries Robert Gates and Donald Rumsfeld. He also served as Special Assistant to President George W. Bush for National Security Affairs and as Senior Director of the National Security Council under Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. In the Senate, he served as an aide to Sens. Jesse Helms (R-NC), Trent Lott (R-MS), and Thom Tillis (R-NC).
President Trump nominated Mr. Wilkie to serve as his next VA Secretary in May, a position that at the time he was filling temporarily following the firing of former VA Secretary David Shulkin. Last month, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing to consider Mr. Wilkie’s nomination and a vote by the full committee is expected later today. It is not clear when the full Senate will vote on his confirmation.