WASHINGTON, D.C.-- The man selected by President Obama to fix what ails the Department of Veterans Affairs promised to give it his utmost.
"I'm fully committed to fulfilling this charge before me, and that is to transform the Department of Veterans Affairs into an organization that delivers its vision to fulfill President Lincoln's promise to care for him who bore the battle, and caring for his widows and orphans," said nominee Robert McDonald, in Tuesday's confirmation hearing before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.
McDonald comes to the job with a deep resume, having served as an Army Ranger and Chief Executive Officer of Proctor and Gamble. The West Point graduate listened as committee members spoke of the need for change at the VA.
"Over the past few months, the nation has been rocked by revelations that the VA was manipulating wait time data, leaving tens of thousands of veterans waiting for care they earned ad deserve," said Sen. Richard Burr (R-North Carolina).
The VA has been the subject of countless news stories and various inspector general reports which have revealed outrageous wait times for patients to be seen at medical facilities and for disability benefits claims to be acted upon. The numerous scandals led to the resignation of former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.
Hampton Roads veterans say they're fed up and ready for chande.
Ken Wiseman serves as the state surgeon for Virginia Veterans of Foreign Wars. He's responsible for monitoring all medical related issues affecting military vets.
"Job number one is going to be restoring the line to veterans so veterans have faith in the V.A. system, " Wiseman said. "This country's most sincere obligation is to care for those who have borne that battle."
McDonald promised transparency, accountability and integrity.
"The seriousness of the moment demands urgent action," he testified. "The VA is in crisis. Veterans are in need. There is a lot of work to do to transform the department and it will not be easy but it is essential and can be achieved."
If confirmed, McDonald said he would take a series of actions in his first 90 days.
No opposition to him surfaced during the two and a half hour hearing, Senators from both parties said McDonald appears headed towards easy confirmation. The committee is expected to vote tomorrow. A vote by the full Senate is anticipated before the August recess.