Veterans Affairs

Updated at 9:58 p.m. ET

The pick wasn't surprising, but the announcement was – President Trump will nominate Robert Wilkie, the acting secretary of Veterans Affairs, to become the department's new secretary.

Trump was speaking at a meeting on prison reform at the White House when he veered off topic to introduce Wilkie to the room. Trump praised the job Wilkie has been doing since he stepped in at the VA from the Department of Defense in March, and then gave everyone a surprise, including Wilkie.

The collapse of Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson's nomination to lead the Veterans Affairs Department leaves the VA rudderless, and awaiting its fourth secretary in four years.

Jackson withdrew earlier this week under a cloud of allegations — which he denies — that he drank on duty, mishandled prescription medications and verbally abused his staff.

Fired Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin tells NPR's Morning Edition that political forces in the Trump administration want to privatize the VA — and that he was standing in the way.

"There are many political appointees in the VA that believe that we are moving in the wrong direction or weren't moving fast enough toward privatizing the VA," he said. "I think that it's essential for national security and for the country that we honor our commitment by having a strong VA. I was not against reforming VA, but I was against privatization."

Updated at 7:30 p.m. ET

President Trump intends to replace Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin with the White House physician, Navy Rear Adm. Ronny L. Jackson, the president announced on Twitter on Wednesday.

"I am thankful for Dr. David Shulkin's service to our country and to our GREAT VETERANS!" Trump wrote.

123rf Stock Photo, Alexander Korzh

A larger medical clinic for veterans is opening in Tennessee in January.

Donna Herndon's Facebook page

An attempted phone scam in Murray, Kentucky has been put on the state Attorney General’s scam alert list after callers posing as Veterans Affairs tried to convince a newly bereaved widow that her late husband owed them money. Donna Herndon lost her husband less than a month ago and has put her grieving on pause to get the word out about a scam that she said could potentially ruin someone’s life.

The House of Representatives on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved legislation making it easier for the Department of Veterans Affairs to fire employees for misconduct while better protecting staffers who bring wrongdoing to light.

The bill, dubbed the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, cleared the Senate by a voice vote last week and is expected to be signed into law by President Trump soon.

Anne Kitzman - 123rf Stock Photo

The Kentucky Senate has added its support for legislation to authorize $10.5 million in bonds to back a project to build a veterans nursing home in Bowling Green. 

As promised, President Trump has moved to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. It's a concern for those who might be left without health insurance — and especially for the Department of Veterans Affairs, which may have to pick up some of the slack.

Carrie Farmer, a health policy researcher at the Rand Corp., says 3 million vets who are enrolled in the VA usually get their health care elsewhere — from their employer, or maybe from Obamacare exchanges. If those options go away, she has no idea just how many of those 3 million veterans will move over to the VA.

Marian Mason has returned to her childhood home of Christian County as the new Executive Director of the Christian County Chamber of Commerce. On Sounds Good, she speaks with Kate Lochte about some of the efforts in the works in the Hopkinsville/Christian Co. area, such as connecting veterans with jobs (after First Lady Michelle Obama's recent Fort Campbell visit), legislative agenda successes, community vision plan, entrepreneurial business plan competition and the recent rebranding/remodeling of the Chamber building.

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