Trump fires Veterans Affairs Secretary Shulkin, taps White House doctor

Trump fires Veterans Affairs Secretary Shulkin, taps White House doctor

The Hon. Robert Wilkie of the Defense Department will serve as Acting Secretary.

'I am thankful for Doctor David Shulkin's service to our country and to our great veterans'.

A White House official said Shulkin was informed of his dismissal by chief of staff John Kelly before the president announced the move on Twitter yesterday afternoon.

That biography also says he is a Texas native who graduated from medical school at the University of Texas in 1995, the same year he began active duty service in the Navy in Virginia. In 2005, he joined the 2nd Marines, Combat Logistics Regiment 25, and deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as the emergency medicine physician in charge of resuscitative medicine for a Surgical Shock Trauma Platoon, according to the White House.

Then-President Barack Obama appointed Jackson as his own presidential physician, and the role has continued under Trump. Jackson's stock with Trump rose after he pronounced in January that the 71-year-old president was in "excellent" health.

Despite the missteps, Shulkin served as a moderating force holding the line as the White House and others pushed for privatizing more health care services for veterans paid for by the taxpayer. He has been the lead doctor monitoring Trump's health since he became president.

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Shulkin, who worked for around 13 months in Trump's cabinet, had been under pressure after a report from an internal watchdog revealed "serious derelictions by VA personnel" on a trip to London and Denmark past year.

In this Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018 file photo, White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson speaks to reporters during the daily press briefing in the Brady press briefing room at the White House in Washington.

He then turned to why it was hard for him to fulfill the mission of the V.A., blaming the political culture in the USA, as well as members of Congress who want to privatize services for veterans.

"I am deeply concerned about the nominee", said AMVETS Executive Director Joe Chenelly in a written statement. Expanding private health care for veterans was a talking point of Trump's on the campaign trail, and a White House priority, and Shulkin's critics have said he was a roadblock to achieving that goal. "The administration needs to be ready to prove that he's qualified to run such a massive agency, a $200 billion bureaucracy". That, and the glowing physical report he gave Donald Trump - a poster boy for hardening of the arteries - make him suspect in this veteran's eyes.

Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, said Shulkin "made a tremendous impact toward improving the lives of veterans". He lacks the management and government experience typical of traditional cabinet secretaries, and he's taking over the second-largest federal agency-one that's been chronically mismanaged and would pose a challenge even for an experienced manager.

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