Monday, March 05, 2007

Who is Jim Nicholson, Secretary of the VA?

How many American's know that Mr. Nicholson is the former National Republican Party Chair?

From Veterans for America.
Nicholson lacks any healthcare or disability benefits-related credentials for leading our Nation's second largest department, with more than 200,000 employees and an annual budget of more than $70 billion.

A few months on the job, and Nicholson doesn't even know that his own Under
Secretary, Jonathan Perlin, told the San Diego Union-Tribune that 120,000 Iraq
and Afghanistan war veteran already received medical care from VA, and that
hundreds of thousands more may need care after they return home from combat. Nicholson's crony credential: Raising $380 million for partisan activities and working to deliver conservative Catholic votes, which have nothing to do with assisting disabled veterans. Sadly, big city newspapers and TV networks haven't reported on Nicholson because no news outlet covers VA full-time.

A Republican controlled Senate easily passed his confirmation.
He chaired the Republican National Committee from 1997 to 2000, raising close to
$380 million for the 2000 cycle. In Bush's first term, Nicholson was rewarded
with the ambassadorship to the Holy See. But he traded vespers for vets last
February, joining his brother John, who was already head of the National
Cemetery Administration. In June, he admitted that VA had underestimated the
number of veterans who would be seeking medical treatment this year by nearly
80,000 because it had failed to take into account the surge in enrollment by
veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts--13,700 of whom have suffered
blown-off limbs, bullet wounds, and the like.

Now, I fully understand that those that govern get the opportunity to choose those that serve around them. I understand that you need people you can trust. These appointments are partisan in nature. I get it.

What I don't get though, is purely how partisan some of these appointments can really be. His service to the nation is impressive.

He is a West Point graduate, served eight years on active duty as a paratrooper and Ranger-qualified Army officer, then 22 years in the Army Reserve, retiring with the rank of colonel. While serving in Vietnam, he earned the Bronze Star Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, the Meritorious Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry and two Air Medals.

But I have to side with some critics, wondering what his experience in dealing with the health care industry?

Could it be because of his big business ties? The VA's move to a privatized system?

Mr. Nicholson, having served in Vietnam ought to really know the pain Veterans face when they come home to the horrific medical conditions they recover in and the bureaucracy they have to muddle through.

I would expect more from a fellow Veteran.

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