Any nominee to head the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) must be ready and able to strengthen and improve the VA for Ohio veterans.
And before I make a decision on that nominee, I want to hear from Ohio veterans about how to do that and what their needs are. I’ve held roundtables across Ohio with veterans, and they’ve made it clear we have work to do to improve the VA health care system. But we also know that privatizing it isn’t the answer – it would deprive veterans of the best possible care, just to line the pockets of private corporations.
After reports that former VA Secretary David Shulkin was fired because he stood up to pressure from the special interest Koch brothers and opposed privatizing the VA health care system, I’m calling on the Trump Administration to move swiftly to nominate someone who has earned the support of veterans groups and will stand up to political pressures to dismantle and privatize the VA.
We’ve seen what happens when we introduce corporate profit motives into organizations that should be set up to serve the American people – just look at how private, for-profit charter schools are failing children in Ohio. Study after study has shown that these schools are not giving Ohio students an adequate education and are fleecing taxpayers.
We allowed for-profit charter school operators to inject profits into Ohio education, and they treated taxpayers like ATMs and shortchanged students. We cannot allow the same thing to happen to veterans.
Instead, we need to strengthen and improve the VA system.
Yes, that will be hard. It’s the largest health care system in the country, serving nine million veterans every year. It provides care at more than 1,200 facilities across the country.
Some of those are serving veterans well, while others need significant investment to improve their services. Too many veterans still face obstacles to getting the highest quality care through the VA system. But just because a task is hard, doesn’t mean we abandon our responsibility to the women and men who served this country.
We can’t put profits ahead of veterans.
Sherrod Brown is the senior U.S. senator from Ohio.