The VA Is In a State of War

VA Secretary David Shulkin may be widely respected, but he still needs to watch his back.Cheriss May/NurPhoto via ZUMA

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

This is a helluva story:

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin is managing the government’s second-largest bureaucracy from a fortified bunker atop the agency’s Washington headquarters. He has canceled the morning meetings once attended by several of President Trump’s political appointees — members of his senior management team — gathering instead with aides he trusts not to miscast his remarks. Access to Shulkin’s 10th-floor executive suite was recently revoked for several people he has accused of lobbying the White House to oust him. He and his public-affairs chief have not spoken in weeks.

And in a sign of how deeply the secretary’s trust in his senior staff has eroded, an armed guard now stands outside his office….“Things have come to a grinding halt,” one senior manager said. “It’s killing the agency. Nobody trusts each other.”

Shulkin wants to expand access to private doctors but keep the VA in overall charge of treatment for veterans. The Trump zealots want to blow up the VA and allow veterans to choose private doctors for anything they want. So they’ve declared war on Shulkin.

Shulkin would like to fire them all, but it’s unclear if he has White House backing to do so. So the war continues. Welcome to Donald Trump’s Washington.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate