Comments Made During Hearing Disrespect Coffman’s Military Service, Emblematic of VA’s Attitude Toward Veterans
Arlington, Va. – In response to disrespectful comments made by Secretary of Veterans Affairs Bob McDonald that were directed at Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) during today’s House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing, Pete Hegseth, CEO of Concerned Veterans for America (CVA), issued the statement below on behalf of CVA.
Click here to watch the exchange between Rep. Coffman and Sec. McDonald:
Pete Hegseth, CEO of CVA, issued the following statement in reaction:
“While it isn’t exactly rare to see a cabinet-level officer face tough questions while testifying before Congress, the disrespectful, combative and accusatory tone Secretary McDonald took with Rep. Coffman today was out of line, inexcusable and in my view requires a formal apology. Not only did Secretary McDonald attempt to shift blame for VA hospital construction delays and cost overruns for a facility in Rep. Coffman’s district, but he then unbelievably spouted, ‘I’ve run a large company, sir. What have you done?’ to a 22-year Marine Corps and Army veteran who served in both Iraq wars. Such behavior is not only beneath the dignity of the office Secretary McDonald is privileged to hold but it shows a lack of judgment and respect for the veterans like Rep. Coffman that his agency exists to serve.
“Secretary McDonald may have only been on the job for six months, but that should be long enough for him to know that it’s Representative Coffman’s job to ask tough questions about VA construction projects that are hundreds of millions over budget and years behind schedule. In fact, contrary to Secretary McDonald’s accusations, as the Chairman of the House VA Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, Rep. Coffman has been sounding the alarm on mismanagement of VA’s construction projects for years, including calling the VA executive in charge, Glenn Haggstrom, to testify twice and pushing for him to be held accountable by his superiors on several occasions since 2012. For Secretary McDonald to try to lay blame for VA’s failures at Rep. Coffman’s feet while Haggstrom not only still has a job, but has received tens of thousands in bonuses since 2009 is unconscionable.
“Contrast that with Secretary McDonald, who, despite promises to bring change to the VA, has consistently pushed back against and undermined reforms that were passed into law by Congress and the President that were intended to give veterans more health care choices and hold bad VA employees accountable. In his short six months as head of the VA, in CVA’s opinion, Secretary McDonald has shown more interest in preserving the status quo at the VA than actually fundamentally transforming the agency.
“The disrespectful comments made today by Secretary McDonald are unfortunately emblematic of the attitudes of many top-level VA executives: The VA bureaucracy cannot be questioned and the VA system itself comes before the veteran it is intended to serve. When Secretary McDonald was nominated by President Obama to serve as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, CVA said we were cautiously optimistic about his nomination. In retrospect, the caution was warranted and the optimism was not.”
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Concerned Veterans for America is a non-partisan, non-profit, 501(c)(4) organization that advocates for policies that will preserve the freedom and liberty we and our families so proudly fought and sacrificed to defend.