VVA PRAISES GARTHWAITE TENURE AS VA’S HEAD OF
Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) President George C.
Duggins today said the pending resignation of Dr. Thomas L. Garthwaite as
Undersecretary for Health in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will
leave a leadership vacuum that will be hard to fill at a Department that is
being asked to do more with less in the coming years.
Garthwaite announced yesterday his intention to resign,
but has agreed to stay on until a successor can be found. Garthwaite, a
27-year veteran of the VA health system, told the Secretary in his resignation
letter, “it has been an honor and a privilege to serve in a leadership
capacity for the past six years. However,
I also believe the time has come for me to seek other opportunities in health
care – a little closer to the patient.”
Duggins said, “under Dr. Garthwaite’s stewardship,
the VA has continued to make strides in making health services more accessible
to our aging veterans’ population.” More needs to be done, and Duggins
emphasized that Garthwaite understands this is a veterans health care system,
and as such, must focus on injuries and maladies that may be related to
Duggins also said VVA will miss Garthwaite’s open
attitude, his keen sensitivity to concerns, and quick responses. “During
this transition period, while a search committee begins the lengthy process of
finding a replacement, Dr. Garthwaite’s steady hands on the bureaucratic
wheel will continue to steer the VA in the right direction.”
The Under Secretary for Health at VA is in charge of a
$20 billion budget and a nationwide health care system.
It has approximately 180,000 full-time employees, 172 hospitals, 800
ambulatory care and outpatient clinics, 135 nursing homes, 43 domiciliary
facilities, and 206 readjustment counseling centers.