Trump fires VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin, plans to nominate White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson

President Donald Trump fired U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, MD, March 29 and revealed plans to replace him with White House physician Rear Adm. Ronny L. Jackson, MD, White House sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

President Trump announced the news via Twitter, stating he "intend[s] to nominate highly respected Admiral Ronny L. Jackson, MD, as the new Secretary of Veterans Affairs," and that Robert Wilkie, an undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Defense, will assume the role of acting secretary.

Several White House sources, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Reuters support for Dr. Shulkin among White House officials eroded during recent weeks following the plethora of negative media coverage about him, according to the report.

Dr. Shulkin drew fire from many critics after the VA Office of the Inspector General released a report in February stating Dr. Shulkin improperly accepted tickets to the Wimbledon tennis tournament during a recent trip to Europe and his chief of staff made false statements to allow Dr. Shulkin's wife to travel at the government's expense.

One official told Reuters the negative criticism toward Dr. Shulkin "[was] making it harder for him to carry out the duties of secretary of the VA, which is something the president has made clear is a big priority for him."

In a March 28 op-ed for The New York Times, Dr. Shulkin commented on his role at the VA and addressed some of the criticism he has received while in office.

"As many of you know, I am a physician, not a politician," Dr. Shulkin wrote. "I came to government with an understanding that Washington can be ugly, but I assumed that I could avoid all of the ugliness by staying true to my values. I have been falsely accused of things by people who wanted me out of the way. … Despite these politically-based attacks … I am proud of my record and know that I acted with the utmost integrity."

Dr. Jackson began his active duty naval service in 1995 at the Portsmouth (Va.) Naval Medical Center. In 2006, he was selected to serve as a White House physician and has served in the role during the past three administrations. He was appointed physician to the president under former President Barack Obama and serves in the same position under the Trump administration. He also conducted President Trump's physical earlier this year and said the president was in "excellent health."

"The president wants somebody who gives him the best possible care to go over and give that same care to the veterans. That's how strongly he feels about getting them represented properly," a White House official told Reuters.

President Trump congratulated Dr. Shulkin on his achievements at the VA, which oversees the healthcare needs for roughly 20 million military veterans and provides care at 1,200-plus facilities.

To access the Reuters report, click here.

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