A message to VA’s workforce from Secretary Wilkie



Hello, I’m Robert Wilkie and it is an overwhelming honor to serve alongside you as Secretary.

There are two emotions today.

The first emotion is feeling very humbled. I was humbled by the honor of being a candidate for this job; I was even more humbled by the call to be your next Secretary.

The second dominant emotion is that of being very, very excited—thrilled! Thrilled to be part of this Department.

I’m deeply grateful to President Trump for the opportunity to serve for him and for America’s Veterans. I am also grateful to the United States Senate for their vote of confidence.

First off… I want to thank you… the staff of the VA. Whether you are at a health care facility, on the Benefits team, serving at our cemeteries, or here as part of our staff at the headquarters… You may not hear enough, but I want you to hear it from me. Thank you for your tireless work and devotion to our Veterans… and thank you for all you do to help them and their families every day.

When President Herbert Hoover signed the executive order in 1930 creating the Veterans Administration, he consolidated Veterans programs and created a new independent administration “for the relief of veterans.” Eighty-eight years later, that is still our charge.

Serving our Veterans is a noble calling. We have a solemn responsibility to our Veterans—not just today, but in the months and years to come, to set the standard for the millions coming into our VA, and for the millions who will join the ranks down the years.

During my confirmation hearing, and in previous messages to you while serving as the Acting Secretary, I shared with you my philosophy – customer service.

Customer service must start with each other—not talking at each other, but with each other across all office barriers and across all compartments. If we don’t listen to each other, we won’t be able to listen to our Veterans and their families…. and we won’t be able to provide the world-class customer service they deserve.

Next, we must have a bottom-up organization. The energy must flow from you who are closest to those we are sworn to serve.

It is from you that the ideas we carry to the Congress, the VSOs and to America’s Veterans will come. Anyone who sits in this chair and tells you he or she has the answers is in the wrong business.

I want to share a story with you from President Eisenhower.

Five months after his inauguration, about 40 Korean War Veterans climbed aboard the presidential yacht Williamsburg—many were missing limbs, some were horribly disfigured. When Ike arrived at the pier, the Secret Service began running up the plank to separate the President from his troops. Before they reached the deck, Eisenhower yelled, “Halt! I know these men.” The agents retreated, and the soldiers gathered around the President.

He said there was nothing the country could do for them that could compensate for what they had given to America. He then addressed them at attention, and those who could stand did, and said you will never put away your uniform, you are always on duty. “You must get well, to remind your countrymen every day that freedom is never free.”

This is our VA. We are here to care for all of our nation’s heroes whose service and sacrifice inspires us all. That is our important and non-negotiable mission. The President and Congress support us, and I’m honored and excited to lead this organization.

I look forward to meeting you, listening to you and serving alongside you. I value your thoughts and insights as we improve our Department for the challenges in the years ahead.

Thank you and God bless.

Author

Timothy Lawson

Timothy Lawson has been a member of VA’s Digital Media Engagement team since April 2016. He graduated from American University’s School of Communications in 2016 with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. Tim is a Marine Corps Veteran having served as a Marine Security Guard posted at embassies in Algeria, Russia, and Peru.

Comments

  1. Henry L Berchak    

    Long past time for VA to take care of Vietnam Agent Orange Vets. We’re dying at a rate of 250+ per day! AND all we’re told is no no no! You didn’t report your problems within a year after separation even though we had no idea what Agent Orange was and had not been inform upon separation as required! So we’re out here appealing and still being told NO! Please fix this!

  2. David Sullivan    

    Sounds Good…
    Now let’s see how it affects the service in Roseburg

    1. robert Lee Mason    

      The VA ‘s answer is: die off we don’t care.

  3. Billy Hill    

    Secretary Wilkie, please find out why veterans still experence long wait time for an appointment through the veterans Choice program. The program was designed so veterans would not have long wait times, what went wrong and how can it be fixed. Veterans deserve better!

  4. Julie Hunt, VSR    

    I work for the VA in the Veteran Benefits, there is an opioid crisis in this country and particularly among veterans. I just read a veteran’s file who was a scout sniper with PTSD he was denied opioid use disorder associated with PTSD with substance use disorder. Why would the VA for years use this medication knowing the addiction risk and then not service connect the veteran to assist them to get off the medication using some other means. We can not just pretend this crisis does not exist.

  5. Danny Brown    

    the federal government issues all kinds of benefits to the vetrans ,but they take them away with the other as a vet I summitted my DD214 before I was a patience at THE V.A. then we should be qualified without all the paper work have to do work with the vets not against them

  6. Milton J. Turner Jr.    

    I have to agree with all the posts about Agent Orange. I am a Vietnam Vet. I applied for a disability concerning Agent Orange causing Hypertension, denied. I think it is a total travesty that the VA has, in the past, slow rolled studies and acceptance of new findings of Agent Orange and it’s affect of the human body in numerous ways.

    I also have issues with the VA only approving disabilities from the date of filing. It makes no sense, the disability is service connected all the way back to the Vietnam War, why isn’t the pay retroactive to that date? Seems to me the VA has established a ‘bureaucratic’ process that cheats Veterans of their just due disability payments! Mr. Wilkie, I hope you will address and rapidly fix these disrespectful treatment and disability payment items!

  7. Justin A Durm    

    Please Support your Troops by purchasing my memoir 81 Days: The Hidden Suicide @ (redacated)

    Justin Durm
    Find me on
    Twitter : jd_futurepres
    Facebook: Justin Juice
    Instagram: presidentj,juice

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