Press Statement

MAY 16, 2001

No. 01-08 
301 585-4000
Contact: Jim Greene


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 military service.

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.  

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Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) is the nation's only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated solely to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families.  VVA's founding principle is 
"Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another."   


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