DENVER – The U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed physician David Shulkin to be the secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs Monday, and Coloradans are now wondering what he’ll mean for the local VA hospitals.
Shulkin is the first non-veteran to head the agency, which isn’t sitting well with some Coloradans who fought and served.
“I think we need a veteran or otherwise somebody who has deep military experience,” said veteran Joe Burner.
The group Concerned Veterans for America remains optimistic that Shulkin will embrace bold reforms so vets see a more transparent, efficient and customer-focused VA.
His confirmation comes after years of scandals and issues with care that Burner says he has seen first-hand, like the time he showed up to the VA emergency room with a broken knee and ankle.
“I came back to Denver, went to the emergency room, and was turned away, them telling me there was nothing wrong with me,” he said.
He says despite Shulkin’s non-veteran status, he has hope that Shulkin will bring change to the VA.
“I think demand is probably not the right word, but we should deserve the care of our country, the care of our government,” Burner said.
Shulkin is a former Obama administration official and has been the VA’s top health official since 2015. He has pledged to protect veterans’ interests, even if it means disagreeing with President Donald Trump.