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McDonough: VA nominee has much work ahead

Should he be confirmed, President-elect Joe Biden’s choice for U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs has a LOT of work to do to restore trust in the agency — and to do right by the men and women it serves.

Local residents are familiar of course with headline-making issues such as the former Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center nursing assistant who was convicted of murdering seven veterans … and the many questions surrounding how such a spree was allowed to go on for so long. And on a national level, there is the matter of President Donald Trump’s Veterans secretary, Robert Wilkie, who has been roundly criticized by The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, AMVETS, Paralyzed Veterans of America and Vietnam Veterans of America –they have asked Trump to fire him — after he attempted to discredit a female veteran who filed a sexual harassment claim, rather than properly investigate the accusations.

Denis McDonough, Biden’s nominee, is not a veteran himself. He says he understands the challenges that might present in building confidence, but that he is committed to “fight like hell for our veterans,” and remove impediments to true service for them such as “mismanagement, staff shortfalls, leadership gaps and IT systems failures.”

Good. Now, if he is confirmed, let us hope he is true to his word. Those who were willing to give their lives for the rest of us deserve the best treatment this nation has to offer. It is time they received it.

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