Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald today released the following message to VA employees:


I am grateful to President Obama and to Congress for this opportunity to join the dedicated employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and I am honored to serve as your Secretary and lead VA.  We are immensely fortunate to work in an organization with the noblest and most respected mission in Government—serving this Nation’s Veterans.

We have strong institutional values—Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect, and Excellence.  We will all need to depend on and live by our values as we rise to meet the challenges ahead.  Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson—my West Point classmate, a trusted friend, and a great leader—had it right in his recent statement to Congress:  “We can turn these challenges into the greatest opportunity for improvement in the history of the Department.”

I recognize that the last few months have been difficult—and the days ahead will not be easy.  In fact, many tasks that we must accomplish will be difficult, but I assure you that I will be with you each step of the way.  I want to hear your ideas for improving the Department, and I will not tolerate those who stifle initiative, seek to punish people who raise legitimate concerns or report problems, or lack integrity in word or deed.  Trust is essential in everything we do.

I am proud of the work you do and the mission we share, and I am determined to move forward to ensure that VA is the provider of choice for care and benefits for every generation of America’s Veterans.

I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible in the coming days.  God bless you all.

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Published on Jul. 31, 2014

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Views to date: 109


  1. Cupom de Desconto August 12, 2014 at 8:06 am

    Congrats! On your new job.

  2. Aneisha Rush August 6, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    I hope you mean what you say Sir. God hold you accountable if you do not. I have 20 plus years in private healthcare administration and navigating your system for my father was a nightmare and a heartache. He was neglected while in the hospital, treated like a number, guinea-pigged with his treatment plans, and barely spoken to. And not bathed. When I made a report, to the VA Hospital to no avail, and then to law makers in my state, it was only to find that the medical records of my father had been falsely documented. I kept diary notes of his stay, including videos, but nobody wanted to open that Pandora box. God may forgive those involved, but I struggle with that. He suffered unnecessarily and for that, I have a hard time extending forgiveness and understanding. I do hope you stand by your word with honor like these men have stood by their country and their oaths to protect. That would make all the difference.

  3. Michelle Bruce August 5, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    Dear Honorable McDonald

    Can you please call me or e-mail me back about the going on stuff here at the Atlanta Georgia VA Hospital and the Atlanta Georgia VA Regional VA Administration, you need to also need to make a surprise visit to them both because of some people as supervisor can talk right on the phone and regular employees stating wrong facts to
    Veterans and I been fighting them both since 1982 on my claims for a sexual assault and rape and PTSD and always was denied heathcare by the both.

    Please call or Email me, as I know there are a lot of employees that do care for us Veterans and I know just like any business you have some bad apples to and that everyone does not fit that as well.

  4. pablo lopez August 5, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    I say let go of everybody from the appeals team in Washington to the people in the reginal office. There is no reason for appeals or claims to take this long. Apparently working overtime on Saturday’s has not helped in any way to curve the wait time. I am sure other veterans feel the same way. At least if everybody is gone and the system is overhauled then we as veterans will now know why our claims and appeals are held up. I personally think everybody was complacent with their jobs thinking the more claims that are put in they were secured with a job.

  5. Gerald Sharrock August 5, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    His comments were general n sounds too much like a politician already.
    If only good sounding words did the job needed.

  6. Charles A Griffis August 4, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    Dear Secretary McDonald,
    As a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist in the VA Healthcare System, I can offer a quick , budget-neutral solution to waiting times and shortage of physician caregivers. Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) like myself and my Nurse Practitioner and Clinical Nurse Specialist colleagues are already present in the system and are ready to step up and help our physician team-mates care for our veterans. Please swiftly approve the recommended update to the VA Nursing Handbook, which will permit APRNs to function more independently as Licensed Independent Practitioners. This will allow us to help our MD colleagues more effectively as a team, and fill in vacant MD positions with our expertise, using already-present resources, at no increased cost and with proven quality and safety of care, well documented in the health care literature.
    Thank you,
    Charles A. Griffis, CRNA, PhD

  7. Ed Knox August 2, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    An indicator of US Department of Veterans’ Affairs attitude can be found in the so-called “Patriot Mart” which might be in several facilities throughout the country. I’m specifically familiar with the one at the Denver VA Hospital at 9th & Clermont. There, the “Patriot Mart” sells items which are not made in the United States. And to further exacerbate the problem, they sometimes cut the labels out of the items that they have for sale. (Presumably, in a feeble attempt to fool someone into thinking that the item ‘might be’ made domestically.) This is against Federal Law. Now, why do I say that this is an indicator of attitude? If the United States Department of Veterans’ Affairs really wants to, they could require – as a condition of the contract – that all these items be domestically produced. This would in turn provide many opportunities for Veterans to be employed rather than homeless. It is just one very small indicator, but an important one nevertheless. The attitude climbs up to the top. Will Bob McDonald change the attitude?

  8. Earl Russ August 2, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    Honorable Secretary McDonald thank for taking on such huge job. I ask if you would place on your list of things to fix is the retirees with disablities retro-pay. I respect that the VA trying to work the claims backlog for Vets that has no income, but the retirees with disablities should not be placed on the back burner for retro-pay due to them for months and years. Please help.

    Very Respectfully,

  9. guy j powers August 2, 2014 at 5:30 am

    why does the VA charge more for prescription (co-pay) then I can buy over the counter.

  10. Milan B. Lemmon August 2, 2014 at 2:13 am

    Congrats! On your new job.

    • JACK L. HATCHITT August 2, 2014 at 12:05 pm


  11. Dr. David Hatfield, SGM, US Army (Retired) August 1, 2014 at 10:56 pm

    Mr. Secretary, welcome aboard and I wish you the best of luck in your new position. I can promise you it will be like no other you’ve ever held! I truly hope you can fulfill the goals you have set forth in this note to your employees. The biggest obstacle you will face is the layer upon layer of bureaucrats between you and the people doing the real work, most of whom try to do the right thing. There are too many of these layers and you would do everyone a big favor by removing two or three of them, at least.

    You have too many senior leaders who have built large fiefdoms with people beholden to them throughout the system. Your Research and Development Office is an example of one of these fiefdoms, and is a particularly nefarious one that has kept Gulf War Illness research held back at least 23 years by misusing Congressional funding, misspending Gulf War Illness funds on research and equipment that was not related to Gulf War Illness, and continuing to focus research into GWI as a psychological illness and not the physiological illness everyone else has agreed it is. It and its cronies throughout the system have stifled any productive research and results and kept us years behind where we should be. Eliminating these fiefdoms and their “kings” is the only way to clean up the mess at VA.

    Because of how they see their leaders behave, middle managers and first-line supervisors create toxic environments for the employees who do the work. They force the fake waiting lists, force the false reports on claims, force claims errors, increase the appeals backlog, create the maintenance problems, the staffing shortages, and all the other symptoms that have shown themselves to the public and Congress. You can’t keep good people in critical jobs when their supervisors, managers, and leaders create horrible environments to work in. You need sound leadership at all levels, preferably leaders who are veterans, who can train and oversee the supervisors and other middle managers to ensure the environment is clean, productive, non-threatening, and non-toxic for the employees in the VA. Having a staff who feels free to work their jobs and raise ideas for improvements will increase productivity and worker satisfaction.

    If there is anything I can do to help, feel free to contact me.

    Very Respectfully,


    • Jalica August 4, 2014 at 10:47 pm

      Dr. David Hatfield, you said it all in the most just manner of purpose. If the new Secretary McDonald believes in us, he can make feedback strong for millions of veterans who can voice their concerns that affect their need of support. This could begin a new field of combatting the old stereo-types still in place. I like the fact you speak of the toxic environments. When working with many commanders overtime, I also learned each has their own agenda that creates uncertainty as they move beyond what others had done, or what worked to control the masses. However, if I could believe in the VA’s transformation, I could work for helping vets feel some sense of being, at least work with members of the community who truly care about us, the families, the survivors! Thank You for bringing your message to the next leader of this institution!!!!

  12. Calvin J Washispack August 1, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    Honorable Secretary McDonald thanks for your full support and dedication to do a good job. However, I have an issue to bring up. I had a brother-in-law (Luther Ray McCallister) (a Korean War Vet) who submitted an application to the VA for PTSD. After 12 months, he case was approved. He collected benefits for 1 month and passed away. Now, his widow (Mary McCallister) is due the pay back-pay from date claim was submitted to the date first claim was paid. Mr McCallister passed in September 2013, and his widow has not hear a thing from the VA. She has submitted the necessary paper-work for this back-pay. She attempted to contact the local VA in Fort Smith AR, but they keep telling her it takes time. The widow is in advance stages of liver failure and may not have too much longer in this life on earth and is dire need of that money for medical services and daily living expenses. Again, thanks for your full support and concerns in the VA.

  13. Eugene Courtemanche August 1, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    I have no Medicare. I have been a patient of the VA for almost seventy years. The problem is that a large percentage of the employees are not doing their jobs properly, or at all. Management needs the the authority to fire these characters without a great effort. They are protected by Civil Service, and know it. Thus, they merely ride the gravy train, and are disrespectful to the veterans.

    • Gerald Sharrock August 5, 2014 at 1:48 pm

      I agree. Managers n supervisors need to be able to fire bad employees. So many have mo respect for veterans.

  14. Jessie Qualls August 1, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    Honorable Secreatary McDonald please leave you door open for veterans like myself can talk to you live and straight to the point you see we are that you should be hearing from not the people who is not doing thair jobs that they were hired to do its the veterans and only the veterans that will look you in the eye and tell it like it is, you see there is discipline in a veteran you see it when he walks, there is honor in a veteran, you can hear it when he talks, there is courage in a veteran, you can see it in his eyes, there is loyalty in aveteran, that he will not compromise. god bless and be with you in all that you will have to do to get this mess behind us.

    • Wayne Godfrey August 2, 2014 at 3:30 pm

      Well said, Jessie…

  15. Don Blackbourn August 1, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    Good luck facing the unions Bob. I see the new bill just passed includes the $365 Million in bonuses. What changed?

  16. Troy August 1, 2014 at 11:57 am

    Secretary McDonald
    Talk is cheap anyone can say something but were I come from actions speak louder than words.And your employees in this big department do not have any respect doe the Veterans that served this nation and I am one of the.I also served in the United States Army & Navy.Two sons one a Marine the other 20 years now in the Navy,as well as my late father Army as well in the Korean War.Sister in laws as well as cousins so my whole family is military.
    The Veterans hospital in Las Vegas as well as Atlanta are terrible the Directors how did they get a nine thousand dollar bonus on the lousy jobs they do? But the VA out of Washington said they were fine which is a lie.So to lie to us Veterans and deny care from them like the young lady Veteran I talk with who has two heart attacks was raped and can’t get to her appointments because that director canceled,and now won’t talk to the veteran about it that is pathetic.
    So lying to us veterans and like Sloan Gibson,was doing get from behind your chair and go to all these facilities a surprise visit they will have no idea your coming till you walk through the door,and catch them as they really are,Because that is what the hell I would do,

  17. Denis Hoffman August 1, 2014 at 10:10 am

    I appreciate your sentiments and your words. I hope that you have the integrity to carry them through to the solution. Although your words are inspiring, we veterans have heard them before. May God Bless and guide you toward the correct solutions and journey. Thank you

    • Marlene Gaylinn August 1, 2014 at 11:38 am

      I hope you will look into problems with applications for VA benefits. One cannot contact our regional office directly. All inquiries go to a central bureau and they are not helping to forward any messages to the Hartford CT Regional Office. No one returns calls or is accountable for anything. My son’s claim began in 2010. Both the VA and two service officer who are supposed to help us with the paperwork have made technical errors in processing. The form/process system is too complicated. It is very difficult to correct errors the Vet had nothing to do with — such as wrong forms and missing filing dates for appeals by the VSOs. I have enlisted Sen. Blumental’s staff and we are still waiting months to clear things up. Please help.

      • Hui-Yong Shih August 5, 2014 at 1:42 pm

        Ive had really good success in going to the DAV office. They can get things done.

Comments are closed.

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