Over the last decade, health care for veterans has changed substantially. The veteran population is aging, and also becoming more diverse. Legislation such as the 2018 Mission Act is supposed to make it easier for veterans to get care through private providers in their own communities. Veterans are more likely to survive the battlefield, and to have increased levels of disability. Veteran suicide rates remain tragically high.

On October 31, 2019, NYSHealth hosted a conversation on veterans’ health with David Shulkin, M.D., the 9th U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Dr. Shulkin shared his experience transitioning from the private sector to the White House, his thoughts about what it will take to provide high-quality health care to veterans through public-private partnerships, and his take on what issues still need to be addressed by VA. He also spoke about his new book, It Shouldn’t Be This Hard to Serve Your Country.

Dr. Shulkin was confirmed unanimously as President Trump’s first VA Secretary in 2017, after having served as undersecretary for health at VA since 2015. He has the distinction of being the sole Obama appointee to serve in the new administration, and he is one of the few cabinet appointees in recent years to enjoy overwhelming bipartisan support. Dr. Shulkin’s selection was also unprecedented in that he was the first non-veteran to lead VA. He also has New York roots, having served as President and CEO of Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City earlier in his career.

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