Senator Carper Hosts Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and Veteran Leaders at Summit

ELSMERE, Del. – On Monday, April 3, 2017, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), a 23-year veteran of the Navy, hosted U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Dr. David Shulkin at the Wilmington VA Medical Center to meet with leaders of Delaware’s Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) and other veteran advocates. They were joined by Dr. Michael Adelman, VISN 4 director, Diana Rubens, director of the Philadelphia VA Regional Benefits Office, Bob Callahan, interim director of the Wilmington VA Medical Center, and representatives from U.S. Senator Chris Coons’ and Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester’s office.

Secretary Shulkin, who was nominated by President Trump to serve as the ninth Secretary of VA and was confirmed 100-0 by the U.S. Senate in February, outlined his plans for the modernizing the VA and improving veterans’ access to healthcare. Secretary Shulkin highlighted plans for updating the appointment scheduling system, modernizing the appeals process, expanding mental health services, extending and improving the Choice Program, making infrastructure improvements to outdated facilities, and holding all VA employees accountable for their performance.

“For more than two decades, I’ve hosted an annual Veterans Summit to find out what is working, and what we can be doing better for our veteran community,” said Senator Carper. “In everything I do, I know I can do better, and I think that’s true of everyone, including the leadership of the VA. While we have seen some improvements since the wait time scandal erupted a few years ago, we have a lot more work to do in Washington and in Delaware to make sure every veteran has timely access to high-quality VA healthcare. Like his predecessor Secretary McDonald, Secretary Shulkin understands the challenge ahead. I stand ready to work with him in Washington to make sure our VA facilities in Delaware have the resources, including adequate funding and steady leadership, necessary to make sure the VA can improve morale, recruit top-notch doctors and nurses, and ultimately continue to improve the level of care our veterans receive at the VA.”

“Leadership at the Wilmington VA continues to make permanent improvements in access to healthcare for our veterans.  Over the past five months, we’ve hired 126 new employees, the majority include physicians, psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses, social workers and other clinical support positions to expand services and reduce waiting time for care,” said Bob Callahan, interim director of the Wilmington VA Medical Center. “Each of our primary care and mental health clinics now have same day access when veterans need us most. We’ve been building more than 140 purchased care/provider agreements with local healthcare organizations throughout Delaware when VA doesn’t have timely access to care or when travel is a burden to the veteran.  Later this year, we will open a new, larger community clinic in Georgetown to expand clinical care in lower Delaware. Now that we have these basic frameworks in place, we will refine our healthcare delivery system, blend the best of VA with private sector availability and improve care coordination with our community partners. The Veteran Summit provided another value adding opportunity to connect with our veterans and veteran advocates. The ideas and opportunities discussed at the meeting will form the building blocks of new changes and improvements we can make to improve services for our veterans.”