Summer started on a high note in the MidSouth Healthcare Network (VISN 9). Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki visited the Nashville VA Medical Center (VAMC), which is a part of VA Tennessee Valley Healthcare System (TVHS).
It was my pleasure to host Secretary Shinseki on our turf for the second time—the first visit was at our Louisville VA Medical Center in 2009. The Secretary is a Veterans’ Veteran, and he confirmed this again during his most recent visit.
The purpose of his visit was to interact one-on-one with Veterans, to meet and greet Nashville VAMC staff members and to learn about the great works taking place there. The Secretary’s visit was very encouraging and uplifting. This wasn’t just a cursory V.I.P. event—the Secretary actually spent time listening to and interacting with Veterans and offering real solutions to your issues.
Secretary Shinseki explained that VA and the Department of Defense are the only federal agencies that don’t have mandated cuts in their fiscal year 2011 budgets, which begin October 1, 2010. He stressed that “somebody is banking on [VA] to deliver” first-rate, compassionate health care and that VA has only one mission: to care for Veterans. VA TVHS director Juan Morales pleasantly surprised the Secretary when he pointed out that Veterans constitute 50 percent of the Nashville VAMC staff (including himself). VA is 30 percent staffed by Veterans nationwide.
Secretary Shinseki also brought along a message from President Obama: His expectations of VA are high—and so is his confidence in VA.
We will keep on forging ahead ...
John Dandridge Jr.