Rep. Brian Mast of Flordia is on the list of President Donald Trump’s candidates for the position of Veterans Affairs Secretary. The position has been left vacant since the sudden firing of David Shulkin on March 28, 2018.
The 37-year-old Congressman was wounded during a military deployment to Afghanistan in 2010. A blast from an IED resulted in Mast having both of his legs and one finger amputated. He now walks using dual prosthetics.
Follow his service, Mast was elected to the House of Representatives in 2016 has voted in support of most of President Trump’s policies. Since his election to Congress, Mast became the first lawmaker to open up an office in the West Palm Beach VA in order to have closer contact with fellow veterans.
Remember Ronnie Jackson?
The deliberations on the Secretary of Veterans Affairs position reopened as President Trump’s original candidate for the position, Ronny Jackson, withdrew his nomination in late April. Jackson, a military doctor and the president’s personal physician, withdrew his nomination after allegations began circulating of Jackson drinking on the job and handing out prescriptions to powerful painkillers in an inappropriate manner.
Even before that information surfaced, many lawmakers were skeptical of his ability to lead a vast organization such as the VA because Jackson had never run a large organization in the past.
The President’s consideration of Mast for the role seems to reiterate the same shortcoming experienced by Jackson accept the former has even less management experience.
VA Longtime Problems
The VA is facing many pressing problems within its organization that demand immediate attention. One of the biggest problems is a restructuring of its electronic database of medical records that will likely cost multi-billion dollars. Members of Congress are concerned that such a drastic revamp will cost too much, and that the money will be wasted while the VA already faces a budget shortfall.
In order to make up for the budget shortfall and to fulfill President Trump’s promise to expand private care for veterans, the House is planning to vote on a bill that will allow veterans to see doctors outside of the VA system.
Other possible candidates to lead the VA include the current acting VA Secretary Robert Wilkie who also served as a Pentagon undersecretary for personnel and readiness, and another candidate is Samuel Spagnolo who is the current president of the National Association of Veterans Affairs Physicians and Dentists.
The VA is currently speculating that a permanent VA secretary will not be in place for another three months as all the candidates for the position are being considered.
My Take On Brian Mast Consideration
Personally, I like Mast and his choice to have an office at a VA facility to help ensure veterans get a fair shake. I also like that he forced VA to put up a photo of the President.
RELATED: Over 40,000 Veterans Appeals Ignored
Do I think he is qualified to run Secretary of Veterans Affairs?
Mast would be one of the youngest secretaries in history. He would likely also have the least amount of experience of any secretary in history. On the back of the Jackson foible, I am disappointed Trump would let his team float another name of someone even less experienced than Jackson.
This leads me to wonder whether the President is seeking a cheerleader instead of a proven leader to manage the fate of veterans relying on the agency for all their healthcare and financial benefits.
Does President Trump take his job of vetting and selecting the next Secretary of Veterans Affairs seriously?