Jon Jensen, host of “Chats with the Chief,” is VHA’s Chief of Staff. This week, he’s joined by VA Secretary Denis Richard McDonough.

During his confirmation hearing, Secretary McDonough testified to Congress, “I will work tirelessly to build and restore VA’s trust as the premier agency for ensuring the well-being of America’s Veterans. After all, there is no more sacred obligation nor noble undertaking than to uphold our promises to our Veterans, whether they came home decades ago or days ago.”

Secretary McDonough grew up in Minnesota in a family of 11 children, graduated from St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, and earned his master’s degree from Georgetown University. He and wife, Kari, have three children.

Wife’s care for military families

In this chat, McDonough reveals how his wife has influenced his career and his thinking. He talks about how she has been involved in the care for military families from her time working with them at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Since starting his new assignment, he has been very impressed by what VA does for Veterans, and that it is “motivating to see the common purpose of all VA employees… the Veterans.”

He explains why he was so moved by reading the book “This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War” by Drew Gilpin Faust.

Home care innovation being led by VA

McDonough talks about the success of VA’s home-based care programs and commends a staff member who administered care for a Veteran in rural Texas, where innovation in home care in America is being led by VA.

Reflecting on his many travels already as VA Secretary, he describes being impressed by the Community Living Center (nursing home) staff at the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center in Wichita, Kansas.

All part of something bigger than ourselves

Asked for advice, he says he believes we are all part of something much bigger than ourselves and explains why we should all give back.

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Published on May. 5, 2021

Estimated reading time is 1.7 min.

Views to date: 292


  1. SW May 6, 2021 at 11:51 am

    Mr Shirley, you are absolutely correct. That old battle-axe needs to be fired for her abusive treatment of you. She needs to learn that she is there to serve you. Meanwhile, you are very fortunate to be able to be seen in person. My va won’t let veterans in for in person appointments they force us to either have a telephone appointment or a video appointment. I want to be seen in person and since all of their employees have had their covid shots there is NO excuse not to see us in person. My va is the oldest and the first soldiers home and hospital in the country but it is being allowed to go into the ground because the va refuses to hire people. The va has, in my opinion, been pushing veterans out for years and covid gave them the perfect opportunity and EXCUSE not to treat veterans. So until something is done to get us back in to our va this article is nothing but hot air coming from a do nothing “figure head”.

    [Editor: This comment was submitted eight times and, as a result, Askimet referred it to the spam folder. One submission is enough.]

  2. Thomas Shirley May 5, 2021 at 6:14 pm

    I have been dealing with VA for many years. Some very fine people have helped me there but sad to say there are many that try to make us miserable. My latest bs was this morning. My appointment letter specifically states my time of 9:00 AM and asks me to be there a half hour early. I get there about 8;25 and get in the long line. Yep, long line already at 8:25. I get to the window about 8:40 and Lashun promptly talks to me like I am a bad child. She arrogantly informed me that
    I “Have” to go sit down and get at the rear of the line again at 845 because I can’t check in before then. After exchanging a few heated words the other check in person smiles and checks me in. At 72 years old I know when some fool is on a power trip. Let’s not forget, I EARNED my VA care. I did not win it in a lottery or get it through some welfare program. My name is ThomasShirley. Lashun needs to get her mind right. I wish you would get the kiosk working again. Sadly the less VA people I have to deal with the better I like it. I would like to add that the fine lady that checked me in and my nurse are fine people with great attitude. I think Lashun has the civil service attitude that no one can fire her. Lafayette, La VA. My name, Thomas Shirley.

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