- The Washington Times - Monday, November 10, 2014

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald said Sunday that he feels a personal commitment to provide the best care to veterans in the VA since many jumped out of airplanes alongside him during his time in the Army.

“This is very personal because I served with a lot of these guys and we were in very dangerous situations,” he said on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” holding back tears. “Those are the relationships that drive me to do this.”

The news program shadowed him at a VA facility in Boston, where one patient slipped him a note that said she had to travel to Boston from Alabama, about 1,200 miles, to receive quality care.

“That breaks my heart,” he said.

Mr. McDonald spoke about progress the department has made in the four months he’s been in charge, including putting many people on administrative leave and working to build cases to permanently fire them.

But he also spoke about more that needs to be done, including hiring 28,000 more employees. He said the department’s reputation isn’t making it any easier to hire people.

“Every adverse outcome that gets amplified by the media doesn’t help me,” he said.

• Jacqueline Klimas can be reached at jklimas@washingtontimes.com.

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