(Springfield, Illinois ) - “Vietnam Veterans of America is surprised by the sudden announcement of the departure of Secretary of Veterans Affairs, R. James Nicholson. We respect Jim Nicholson’s attempts to address several of the problems confronting his department’s ability to meet the growing needs of veterans,” VVA National President John Rowan said today upon learning of Nicholson’s intent to end his tenure as leader of the Department of Veterans Affairs, which with today’s announcement will end by October 1st.
“While not generally known to the organized veterans’ community prior to his appointment at the beginning of President Bush’s second term, Mr. Nicholson did preside over a number of accomplishments during his almost three years at the head of the VA, as well as weather some real storms of controversy,” Rowan said. “While Secretary Nicholson was able to expand the number of Community-base Outreach Clinics, begin to restore much needed staffing levels in mental health, and greatly expand the outreach and services for younger veterans from the wars of today, his tenure was also marked by public funding shortfalls in the summer of 2005 and the highly publicized losses of highly personal and confidential medical information for millions of veterans.”
Rowan went on to praise the Secretary for his palpable concern for veterans, and for his equanimity in the face of extreme pressure. “We thank Secretary Nicholson for his devotion to public service, his hard work and discipline, and for his open attitude toward new ideas to improve services to veterans of every generation. All of us at VVA wish him and his family well as they have the opportunity to re-enter private life back home in Colorado.”
Rowan also called on the President to move quickly to nominate a strong successor, as this is no time to have the VA without a confirmed Secretary. “It is imperative that the President quickly nominate someone to lead the VA who is thoroughly familiar with all aspects of veterans’ affairs, and who can step in and lead the department during this time of rapidly expanding needs of veterans of every generation. This is no time for an on-the-job style of candidate.”