Very recently, I was afforded the opportunity to have a discussion with our new national Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Robert McDonald. Wisely, he is taking time to visit VA health care centers across the country, including our center in West Roxbury, Massachusetts.
I was impressed by some of the new ideas he brings to the table. He comes to us as the recent CEO of Proctor and Gamble where he earned high marks for innovation and collaborative leadership. He was selected because of the high marks he received as a leader who believes in the power of people to make large-scale change in complex bureaucracies.
He also comes to us with military experience: he is a West Point graduate; he completed Jungle, Artic, and Desert Warfare Training, and earned a Ranger Tab. He also served with the 82nd Airborne Division, (which is near and dear to my heart).
At our meeting, he was brimming with ideas to reduce wait times for mental health treatment for our Veterans. He looks to expand the home modification program to allow as many veterans as possible to avoid institutionalization, and to expand facilities, especially in rural areas.
What really hit home with me, however, was his rock solid commitment to our VA system. He does not believe in reducing care – he believes in making it the best health care system in the world. He reminded us that the VA collaborates and teaches at our best Boston hospitals, and that the VA has led the medical field in discovery of many procedures we take for granted today.
In spite of the many challenges that are before him, I was impressed by his ability and his commitment and I believe he will move fast to make the critical changes necessary to improve care at our VA facilities.
State Representative Linda Dean Campbell represents the Cities of Methuen and Haverhill. She currently serves on the following committees: Election Laws (Vice Chair), Ways and Means (budget and appropriations) and Public Safety and Homeland Security. 617.722.2305/Linda.Campbell@mahouse.gov/