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VA Acting Under Secretary For Health Steps Down Earlier Than Expected

Dr RIchard Stone

The Department of Veterans Affairs just announced that Richard Stone, MD, is stepping down from his role as the as the acting under secretary for health.

The retired Army Maj. Gen. has served as the executive in charge of the Veterans Health Administration from 2018 to 2021. The agency position was never filled with a senate confirmed under secretary after David Shulkin, MD, left the position once confirmed as a VA secretary in 2017.

Before his role as the acting under secretary, Stone previously worked for Booz Allen Hamilton in military health consulting after a one-year stint as the VA’s principal deputy under secretary for health.

The Biden Administration has searched for a candidate to nominate for the top slot since March. Stone was expected to step down sometime next month suggesting a nomination may be soon to follow his departure.

The VA secretary’s press release stated:

The contributions of Dr. Richard Stone, Retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. to the country and Department of Veterans Affairs are immeasurable. I admire and rely on him a great deal and have been discussing this important assignment and his role with him for months.

I respect his decision to leave, especially given the reason he told me he would do so: to ensure the incoming Under Secretary, whom I strongly believe needs to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate, has the opportunity to fully assume leadership of the Veterans Health Administration. 

We owe Dr. Stone an immense debt of gratitude for his leadership, especially during the pandemic. When COVID-19 first began to spread, Dr. Stone was among the first people Veterans and their families heard from, delivering a simple and urgent message: “We are going to be here [for you] just like we have been for the last 100 years.” Under Dr. Stone’s leadership, VHA’s excellent employees have done exactly that — vaccinating millions, saving lives and risking everything to serve those who served our country. 

As much as I hate to see Dr. Stone go, I am grateful to him for staying through mid-July, during which time I will continue to lean on him and learn from him. I’m proud to call Dr. Stone a friend and I thank him for his decades of service. Our nation is safer, and our Veterans are healthier because of his work.

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22 thoughts on “VA Acting Under Secretary For Health Steps Down Earlier Than Expected”

  1. The whole medical model physicians are pill pushers. This is all they know. This is what they were licensed under, “Pill Pushers to Death Due You Part.”
    The is how the American Medical System trains the physicians. Not even the Doctor of Osteopaths can get a treatment hardly in or a word in for that matter. Listen, it was the Rothschild family that started the American Medical Association along with Big murderous Pharma. The system is broken. The care is top down and it should be bottom up. If you do not believe me, look back at your history going back years not just under Obama and Trump.

    1. Know a few people who work for Booz Allen Hamilton. One of them had mentioned to me and this was during the Trump administration that in order for the healthcare system to be truly fixed the leadership needed to receive what they are dishing out to the veterans and to the non veterans. I am referring to the Congress, the Senate, the lobbyists, and the civil service workers themselves. My point is they do not truly care unless it is happening to them. So here you have it in a nutshell. All about money while the dollar decreases in value and while other countries are now starting to not want to invest in the United States.

    2. I bet Booz Allen Hamilton, VA, and others would not use their own blood work for anything. Criminal actions and double standard.

    3. Benjamin,
      you may have respect for Dr. Stone as in his position. However, I ask the question? Did the VA really do the best job that it could have under the Trump administration? Yes President Trump did what he could with trying to improve and some veterans have mentioned to me that he did improve certain areas. In my opinion, I would answer my own question to say, “No”.
      The VA absolutely did not. Back in the day, the VA truly used to invest in the veterans a little more and show a little more respect than they have in years forward.
      Benjamin, I do not take anyone’s side. I say it and call it like I see it with the information surrounding me. I speak to what I witness. I have been around so I see the difference not saying the VA did not have issues before Obama. I would say the Clinton administration started to destroy the VA in my opinion. This is when some of the outsourcing started and when Clinton enacted the quantity quota. Benjamin, I have many reasons to my response No.
      I have documented reasons why I said no.
      Should the VA ask, “I will gladly tell them.”
      They will not like my information.
      Benjamin, I would not have the information if the VA had been truly delivering in an accountable manner. The federal government does not care about efficiency and effectiveness.
      How can they Ben? The federal government is too large, i.e. the VA. The VA is too compartmentalized and has too many hands.
      When President Trump was elected, many did take note. Before his election, the VA never cared who was the VA Secretary or who was the President. The VA did what they wanted too. Anytime the VA had a program that worked to help the veterans, they eliminated it yesterday.
      I ask the question, “Why?”
      Tell me what is the purpose of the existence of the VA if the veterans are not served accordingly. 🇺🇸🗽

  2. Ah, the great Dr. Stonewall, who did his damndest to ensure that we had no control over how our private health records were shared outside the VA, and when he got caught (thanks in part to Ben), obfuscated and lied through his teeth to convince Vets not to opt out. No doubt he’ll land a job (if he hasn’t already) with a salary commensurate with his insider knowledge of how our health data can be mined for max corporate fun and profit. Good riddance. Unfortunately, the revolving door is spinning with dizzying speed under Biden.

  3. To all. I will never vote for a democrat. Take a look at what they’ve accomplished over the many decades. Research and research some more. You’ll find – under their administrations – we got screwed worse than under Republican administrations!
    I can’t stand setting foot in any VA medical facility. I’ve actually seen how these bottom barrel feeders violate laws. Then only get transferred when its brought out into the open.
    I have many horror stories about this agency. Only it would take days to type it out.
    I will say this: the VA needs to stop hiring serial murderers! Throughout the past few decades, there have been quite a few caught. The latest one was in West Virginia!

    1. I don’t have to research, experience counts! When you only have 2 choices, an uneducated, distracted, disinterested, & disenfranchised society, then that is where our dysfunctional government has become. Invest in society & infrastructure, not WARS & WEAPONS trying to display your bravado. Stop welfare for the rich!

    2. Gene Goldenstein

      I am a Vietnam Veteran.
      I worked for the VA for approximately 35 years.
      It has nothing to do with Democrat or Republican.
      You buy that line you will buy anything.

      1. Yes it does. Has to do with the policies and regulations and laws. Democrats are insane. However the Republicans are right behind them. The whole system is broke and has been broke. Although, it does not matter most of the time what Congress and the Senate says or enacts. The VA does whatever it wants to regardless along with the other federal agencies. The federal agencies serve themselves. The federal government just redistributes money and this is it. The federal government is just in the way most of the time because it does not manufacture or produce or innovate or build or grow. As for Bill Gates and Dr. Fauci, both need to be investigated for their genocidal actions.

    3. Crazy Elf,

      I do not belong to either party affiliation. I will say this the whole medical system acts with criminality along with Big Pharma. And this is not all, the source of all medical issues points to the food supply. Yes and yes, with the big pharma having been started by the Rothschild family. The whole system is murderous. The federal government needs to be totally removed from the healthcare system.

    4. Yes, Former Senator John McCain always voted on legislation against the veterans and the military. He wanted to streamline and do away with veterans preference. He only wanted a veteran to be able to use the preference regulation once. Say he was working a low level job while in college, well, Former Senator John McCain wanted to strip it and not allow the veteran to use it later towards more substantial employment. And yes Former Senator John McCain was a Republican. So DC is all one in my opinion. They are so disconnected from the rest of the country. However, most of the country is collapsing under the Biden administration and the Biden administration is selling us out to China. So….for now all bets are off in this whole system.

  4. Disappointing that Stone is leaving. He finally got the organization under control , and we’ll be starting with yet another inexperienced political appointee. Yes, Trump was awful and messed us up. But so far Biden has done nothing, and his new Secretary the same.
    The revolving door continues and the bureucracy rejoices: it will be years before the new people figure out where the bureaucrats buried their mistakes and their laziness.
    This is not veteran centric, it’s institution centric. Reminds me how Obama lost the respect of veterans . We paid for it when the vets went for the glittering promises of trump The only thing they got for it was access to private doctors who knew less about veteran problems than the VA doctors. When they decide to come back, there won’t be a VA for them. This is the way trump and the democrats collude , probably unintentionally, to let a great institution die. Just like the public health hospital system two generations ago, and the Military treatment facilities a generation ago. That too has been privatized in tri care , known by its involuntary customers as “ try to get care’. For the record ,several of us ( at a meeting at the Clear Lake Legion Hall near Houston) told candidate Obama that adage and asked him to pay attention to the failures of tricare and support the strength of the VA while reforming it. He did absolutely nothing. Trump of course did more than nothing:?he explicitly tried to destroy it. The courage of General Stone made sure trump was not successful.
    Now he is gone and yet another set of experience is wasted.
    The only reason I’ll vote democratic is because the currrnt neo fascists are so much worse. But with friends like our current democrats who needs enemies?
    Guess I’ll have to see what these people unfamiliar with the va and veterans will come up with for an USH. I do pray to be surprised and then I’ll eat my words.
    I held every position in the VA between 1973 2018. From resident to medical director in the field and VACO to consultant . I am honored to have been able to treat fellow veterans. But I remain disappointed in our political leaders and their either hostile or amateurish understanding of our problems.
    Tom horvath MD

    It was an honor to serve with General Stone, General Peak and Mr Principi and mr Brown.
    The less said about some of the others, republicans and democrats appointees alike, the better.

    1. Thanks for your comment Tom. I left the VA years ago. When Obama was elected and from what I witnessed, the VA became even a further mess. As for former President Trump, I only know what other veterans have been telling me. It is true. Veterans have told me that President Trump did improve some areas of the VA. I repeating what these particular veterans have shared with me. Put it like this, the legislation that Former President Trump enacted had zero impact on me. In other words, I have been constantly cleaning up and straightening out situations where people in government and companies either intentionally or unintentionally dropped the ball. Former President Trump and all politicians have not improved my status whatsoever. I am the one who has improved my status; but, not there yet.
      I have still been having to help other people before myself to prevent serious happenings. However, I could have already jumped to the top of the mountain if I had not been slammed by the federal government, local government, and companies.
      What I have truly noticed is people in many leadership positions regardless of the VA or wherever truly abuse consumers. Unless people educate and inform themselves, veterans and non veterans will be shortchanged in my opinion. People have to stand up. If people keep going to emergency rooms for help, the physicians will just do what is under their job description and no more. The healthcare system is criminal in my opinion. Instead of informing the patients of other resources to prevent coming back and coming back to a hospital, they do not recommend the truth. People have to have others as advocates who are informed if not consumers are sunk in or out of the VA. The system is broken. I do not expect anything from anyone. If it gets done, I will be the one to accomplish it. The federal government serves itself and this is not how this country was founded. The VA and rest of the federal government are supposed to serve the people. Will return…my phone is about to die.

    2. I just had a procedure in the much maligned Roseburg. I could have done the whole TriWest thing but would have had to wait. One I got out of the waiting are and into surgery prep it was a different world. The staff was a class act. Some would say that’s an improvement.

      Trump? Major Douchebag. Merely rebooted Obama’s privatization. Renamed it from Choice to whatever. I’ve benefited from both as I’m a long way away Roseburg.

      Biden? Proven corporatist in liberal trappings. All yo need to know about that asshat is that two days after certain billionaires were outed for paying shit for taxes, Biden’s DoJ announced an investigation into the leak, not the tax cheat mortarforkers.

      Gets me all flag wavy n’shit.

    3. Dr. Horvath,

      Thank you for sharing your professional and personal opinions about the current state of affairs at the VA. Your comments validate the incredible difficulty I’ve experienced with trying to obtain polytrauma care for my combat injuries. I was told by the VA there is a Polytrauma Support Clinic Team (PSCT) at the Alexandria LA VA Hospital & I was even sent links to the VA that outlined the medical capabilities that would be available to me.

      Unfortunately, I was absolutely HORRIFIED by what I discovered. It was nothing more than a primary care clinic. My primary care physician was a family practitioner & had absolute zero training on TBIs!! He wasn’t even trained or qualified to screen veterans for TBIs. There was no pain doctor to manage my intracathecal pain pump, no neuro or ortho-surgeons, no sleep doctors, no neurology, no mental health, & not even a speech therapist. The only services they could provide was a primary care doctor that was nothing more than a pill pusher. When the infamous Choice program was rolled out, it was normal to wait 2-4 months for a non-VA referral. When suffering from breakthrough spine pain & I was in desperate need for a cortisone injection, I was forced to wait 2-4 months before I could be treated.

      The VA did an excellent job at forcing me to leave the Alexandria hospital completely. Why wait 2-4 months to receive care when my Tricare for Life benefits didn’t force you through a broken bureaucracy. I was able to schedule my injections immediately when I switched over to Medicare. My nurse case manager repeatedly told me that it was not her job to help me with non-VA care…..she said her only responsibility she had with me was medical care their clinic provided.
      A different nurse told me, “sir, you are nothing but a number to me”.

      Additionally, I was suffering from extreme hip & leg pain & no one at the VA could give me a correct diagnosis. Eventually my doctors did away with me by accusing me of lying and/or grossly exaggerating my pain. Instead of trying to find a nerve specialist to help me, I was repeatedly told that I had reached the end of what medical science could do for me & recommended I get off of opioids & to manage my pain by physical therapy & meditation. This was so extremely egregious that I simply can’t make this up!

      When I begged the hospital director & the VISN 16 Network Director (Dr. Skye McDougall, PhD) to approve a referral any spinal cord injury clinic because the clinic in Houston denied 3 physician initiated referrals. Instead of helping me, they ignored 16 email requests over a period of 6 months. Finally I submitted a self referral to the clinic in Richmond but was promptly denied because I was accused of not having any spine or spinal cord injuries in my VA treatment records…..and he was 100% correct! Why? Because the VA has refused & continues to refuse to perform a comprehends review of my military medical records & to have this information transcribed into my VA records. The doctor even refused to look up my records via the “Joint Legacy Viewer”, which allows any provider to access 100% of my military medical records.

      Finally I had no choice but to locate a peripheral nerve surgeon on my own! After spending $16k in out of pocket travel costs the VA refused to reimburse me because I was accused of not submitting a referral request before striking out on my own. As I’ve said, this was so pathetic that you can’t just make this stuff up.

      Fortunately, I persisted in my efforts & was able to pay for my travel costs. But I feel sorry for the thousands of veterans that were not as fortunate as myself.

      Thank you for serving our nation’s veterans and I pray someday the VA will rise to the occasion. Unfortunately, I’m not very optimistic at all. Why? Our country was at war for 2 decades & we still don’t have enough trained and experienced medical providers and specialists to treat TBIs & the horrific kinds of injuries that are far from normal. I’ve been told a hundred times that I look perfectly normal and fit. Unfortunately, no one can see what has happened to my damaged brain and how it affects me & they can’t see the muscle & skeletal injuries because they too are largely invisible.

      Harold M.
      LTC(R), U.S. Army

      1. Gene Goldenstein

        Dr. Ken Goldberg Vamc Durham
        COS should fill the position. He is
        young and brilliant,

      2. Thank YOU for your service. Unfortunately Alexandria is the type of poorly managed hospital that gives the rest of us a bad name. VISN 16 used to be well managed but the current director is an unresponsive creature. Who was blocked by John McCAin from ‘ serving’ AZ vets and she got inflicted on us. I am disappointed that my old hospital in Houston refused the referrals.
        I don’t think I would have tolerated it while I was chief of staff. We actually built up a very strong rehab and pain operation, aimed at our ‘ new’ combat vets. Yet once again, the director and chief of staff who succeeded my boss and I when we retired were not our first choices. BUT Things are turning around: the current director is a Navy Vet, a smart IT type and the brand new COS just came off a successful stint in directing Walter Reed. There are MANY excellent Baylor faculty physicians in Mike DeBakey’s favorite hospital. It’s a shame you need a lot of experience navigating the VA. We perform actually as well as any healthcare system and better in areas than many , as shown by RAND and IOM/NAS. but the many excellent ONES are dragged down to average BY the poor ones. THE TRICK IS TO FIND THE GOOD HOSPITALS.

      3. The VA is piss poor at pain management. They’re great at prescribing opioids and painful injections though.. Their Emergency Rooms are slow and run by clueless and inefficient staff. ER doctors are not given authority to do Emergency treatment. They were closed to all non-COVID-19 veterans during the pandemic while outside medical centers were open to all. Veterans I served with won’t step inside any VA.

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