- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Sen. Bernard Sanders, Vermont independent, said Tuesday that whoever becomes the new secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department will have to be “willing to take the heat.”

“I hope that we’re going to have somebody who has the courage to come into that cauldron where there’s so much attention,” he said on C-SPAN. “It is a very controversial area.”

When asked about Dr. Toby Cosgrove, CEO of the Cleveland Clinic, removing his name from consideration, Mr. Sanders said it could be a tough transition for someone running a hospital to be thrust into the media spotlight and appear before congressional committees. Mr. Sanders said he has suggested a few names to the president, but declined to share his picks.

Mr. Sanders said the VA healthcare system is “overburdened” by the return of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan and the aging population of Vietnam veterans — but noted it’s the country’s responsibility to care for those it sent to war.

“If you have the money to send them off, you have to under it’s a cost of war that 70 years later you’re still going to be taking care of those veterans. If we can’t do that, we’re not much of a country,” he said.

Despite reports that show more than 57,000 veterans have waited more than three months for care, Mr. Sanders repeated that the care at the VA is good once veterans can get in.

“If you talk to veterans all over the country, if you talk to their organizations…what they will tell you is that once people are in the VA, the quality of care is good. So to my mind, what we want to do is provide better management but we also want to make sure every facility in this country has the staff they need,” he said.



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