Go into one of the veterans hospitals in Washington, D.C. and the doctor who is seeing you might be a Cabinet secretary.
David Shulkin, the veterans’ affairs department head, is apparently still treating patients as he attempts to reform the huge bureaucracy he runs.
“Sometimes leaders get disconnected from their organizations,” Dr. Shulkin, who was confirmed unanimously by the Senate, told The New York Times. “There is no better way to understand it than to use it and actually see.”
Shulkin, born to a Jewish family and whose father was an Army psychiatrist, is the first non-veteran to lead the agency.
He was brought in as a top official under former President Obama, and partly due to a bipartisan reputation was promoted by President Trump. David Friedman, Trump’s friend and the ambassador to Israel, apparently recommended Shulkin.
Since taking the top job, the VA secretary has adopted some ambitious reforms, opening up mental health services to those with dishonorable discharges, making public quality and efficiency statistics and planning on how to refocus the agency on its core mission of treating ex-soldiers with complicated and interrelated physical and mental ailments.