July 23, 2018

Duckworth Votes to Confirm Robert Wilkie as VA Secretary


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – After the Senate voted to confirm Robert Wilkie as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), a combat Veteran and former Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs, released the following statement:

“During our meeting earlier this month, Robert Wilkie pledged that he would oppose VA privatization and showed that he is committed to maintaining the VA’s mission as the principle coordinator of care,” Duckworth said. “I hope Mr. Wilkie can turn the page on this chapter of uncertainty and dysfunction caused by inexperienced Trump political appointees and I urge him to bring in an entirely new leadership team to complement existing dedicated career civil servants. Failure to do so will ultimately only hurt our Veterans, and that is unacceptable.”

Duckworth met with Wilkie earlier this month and they spoke about the critical role VA plays coordinating care for Veterans across the country and his commitment to oppose further privatization of VA. They also talked about her bipartisan legislation to make preventive healthcare more affordable for Veterans, her bipartisan legislation to strengthen Veteran-owned small businesses and her bill to make childcare more affordable for Veterans and help reduce Veteran unemployment. She also thanked Wilkie for VA’s support of the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy and invited him to join her on a visit to the Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago, which he committed to doing.

Since being wounded in combat while piloting a Black Hawk helicopter in Iraq, Duckworth has dedicated her life to serving America’s servicemembers and Veterans. As a Senator, she has been outspoken about protecting Veterans’ access to healthcare, introduced legislation to help Veterans become citizens, and she recently passed an amendment to help train Veterans for jobs in fast-growing energy industries. As a Congresswoman, she coauthored the bipartisan Clay Hunt SAV (Suicide Prevention for American Veterans) Act, which passed both the House and Senate unanimously and was signed into law to improve mental health care services for Veterans and reduce Veteran suicide. She also introduced the bipartisan Troop Talent Act—large portions of which were signed into law—to help servicemembers transition to civilian life by making it easier for them to turn the skills they learned in the military into the credentials and licenses needed for similar civilian fields.