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"It's great news for Veterans" Sec. Shulkin on CBN's Faith Nation

"It's great news for Veterans" Sec. Shulkin on CBN's Faith Nation Read Transcript


Secretary David Shulkin of Veterans Affairs,

the VA secretary.

Great guy.

By the way, did you know he was confirmed 100

to nothing in the Senate?

When does that happen?

Wow.

Hello.

Wow.

That's incredible.

I told him he's the answer to a trivia question.

But anyhow, so he worked for President Obama, actually,

confirmed under President Obama, and also

now under President Trump.

So we talked about what it's like to work

for both of those presidents.

We also talked about all of the bills that

are being signed into law by the president when

it comes to the veterans.

I mean, I know "The Washington Post" and "The New York Times"

want to talk about Russia, and they

want to talk about how health care reform is not

getting done, taxpayer reform.

When it comes to veterans', issues

Trump is signing bills left and right.

So have a look at our interview.

Secretary Shulkin, thank you for being

here on CBN's "Faith Nation."

Glad to be here.

So look, we hear all the time about partisan gridlock,

health care, tax reform, can't get done, all of that.

But there you are at the VA, and there

are these bills that are actually being signed into law.

So I'm curious a little bit about this Forever GI bill that

has just recently been signed.

Tell me a little bit about this.

The president signed the bill, and it's great news

for veterans because it extends the benefits,

expands the number of veterans that

are going to be able to get their education because

of their service.

So instead of having a 15-year limit, now it's forever.

We think that veterans should be able to expand their knowledge

and get education at any point in their lives,

and to make them better and better employees and better

citizens.

And that's something that we're really proud of.

I also want to ask you about this VA Funding bill.

And inside the VA Funding bill that's been signed into law,

there is the Choice program where the private sector

can help out veterans as well.

So explain how that bill that is now law

not only helps this Choice program stay afloat,

if you will, but also the VA itself

and the public sector is getting money, too.

So you've got the public sector and the private sector.

Well, this is exactly what our plan is for the VA

to make it a better system, to modernize it.

We're both investing in the VA to make

it a stronger, sustainable system because it's

essential for our country.

It's essential for veterans and for our national security.

But part of making this a modern system

is to utilize the best of what the private sector has.

So we're building a system so veterans

can take advantage of the unique resource of the VA,

but also be able to access the best resources

in the private sector.

And that's what this bill really did.

So tell me more about the Choice program, where

you see that going in the future,

because it has been wildly successful.

Well, we've had more veterans than

ever before utilize the Choice program

to get care in the community.

And what this is going to result in

is the ability of veterans to be able to have

even greater access, greater choice in their health care

decisions.

And we think that not only improves access to care,

but it improves the quality of the care.

I want to ask you a little bit about a CBN program.

It's called Helping the Home Front.

And they're getting together with churches,

and they're really helping military families

re-acclimate to society by helping them

with certain projects, financially and otherwise,

whatever it happens to be.

It's a very important project, and I'm

wondering what you think of a project like that.

Well, what a great program.

And one of the things that we recognize at the VA,

no matter how much we do, we can't do it alone.

And so many Americans want to be able to show their gratitude

to our veterans and what they've done putting their lives

on the line for the country.

So this is a program that channels a lot of the community

resources into the churches that then give and help

our veterans.

And it's exactly the type of activity

that we want to see across America.

And it's really the generosity of the American people

that allow this to happen.

One of the things you've talked about,

there have been five different areas

you want to focus on to improve the VA.

Obviously, work needs to be done.

There's no doubt about it.

One is modernizing the VA.

But there's another one that talked about disability claims.

And there's a big time lag in disability claims.

What is being done to fix that issue?

Well, I think we all recognize it's just taking too

long to get veterans decisions.

If somebody is disabled because of their service,

they deserve to get the benefits that we

want to give them right away.

And so we're working to decrease that time.

A couple of years ago, we had 611,000 veterans

waiting for a decision more than 125 days.

Today that's about 86,000.

So we've made progress, but not enough.

So in September, we're going to be

launching a new way to be able to get a decision within 30

days.

And ultimately, our goal is to have same day decisions.

So we're continuing to make progress.

We're using technology.

We're now paperless.

We're using new methods of being able to make

these decisions faster.

But that's our commitment to do better each and every day,

and to be able to get to a point that people can get really

instant decisions.

So you're in an interesting situation.

You worked for President Obama as VA Secretary.

And along comes President Trump, and you're

VA Secretary under him.

Tell me what that's been like.

Two different people, two different styles for sure.

How have you been handling that?

Well, you know, one of the things I believe--

and I've gotten to know other presidents as well--

when you become commander in chief,

that connection to those who serve,

to the service members and veterans,

is really genuine and strong.

And so we saw that in President Obama.

And there's no doubt we saw that when the President Trump was

a candidate, but he's even reaffirmed his commitment

to service members and veterans since he's been president.

So that passion to do better is certainly there.

I think with this president, he treats this as a business

and says, listen, here are the objectives.

We have to do better.

I don't have much patience.

I want to see it get done.

Go out and do the job.

And that's really a good fit for me

because I know I have his support and the support

of the administration to get this job done.

And so each and every day I feel like we're making progress,

and we're getting the type of legislation

that you're seeing through Congress.

We have bipartisan support.

We're working well with our veterans' service

organizations.

We do have the support of the president.

And so I feel very optimistic that we're

going to make a big difference for our country's veterans.

I want to ask you a little bit about what's been in the news

recently and some of the comments that we've seen come

from the president, and white supremacy,

Neo-Nazis that have been protesting.

It kind of really does go to a larger issue

as it relates to veterans, because veterans obviously

protecting our country and patriotism,

what our country stands for.

So I'd like to get your take on how the two intermix,

intermingle, if you will.

Well, look, this is a tough time for the country.

We're seeing a lot of emotions.

There's no doubt about it.

But nobody said that democracy was pretty.

I mean, we're seeing it in action,

and we're seeing people speak out.

And people feel strongly about the values

that America stands for.

And as a citizen, I speak out.

I think I think that's our duty.

I do think that we're going to come out stronger for this.

This country is going to unite around

the principles of American values,

and it is what our veterans swear to do

when they enter the military.

And they're willing to put their lives on the line for it.

So I'm proud to be able to represent our country's

veterans.

They are the ones who will stand up and make sure

that we get to continue to have these types of debates

in public and be able to see democracy in action.

I have to ask you this.

I saw it in Wikipedia, so it's got

to be true-- all right, maybe not, but I think it is true.

You were the designated survivor at the State of the Union

address the President did in February?

You were like Kiefer Sutherland.

What was that like?

I wasn't able to talk to my kids and family

about that until, actually, the time of the State of the Union

speech.

But what impressed me the most in going

through that experience was the thoroughness and seriousness

in which people who work for the government

take the inevitability of looking

at every possible situation that could happen.

And people should feel confident and feel

proud of the redundancy that we have in this government,

the commitment that we have to keeping this government going

no matter what would happen, even the ultimate catastrophe.

And to be able to watch that and see that up front,

and to have a little part in that,

I walked away feeling very proud to be an American.

Great guy.

David Shulkin, AKA Kiefer Sutherland.

Not making as much money as Kiefer Sutherland, by the way.

Fascinating what he said about being the designated survivor.

Yes, for sure.

He-- I liked how he couldn't talk to his wife and kids.

That's so cool.

He was in a bunker.

I know he was.

I don't know where he was.

I know.

It makes you wonder, what do they do with them?

It does make you wonder.

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