VA Sec. Wilkie: We've 'changed out leadership' at VA centers, proposed largest budget

Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie said Thursday he has focused on putting in place people at the V.A. who "understand the culture and know the language of service."

Joining Harris Faulkner for a live interview on "Outnumbered Overtime," Wilkie was asked about how he has tackled one of the major issues plaguing the department for years: long wait times for veterans seeking health care.

Wilkie said President Trump authorized him to propose the largest budget in the history of the department, $220 billion, while making changes to V.A. leadership at medical centers around the country.

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"If someone wasn't walking the post, getting to know the people who worked for her or him or getting to know those veterans, they had to leave," he said.

Wilkie said wait times for veterans are now as good or better than in the private sector.

"It was simply a result of us putting people in place who had that sympathetic history with those who wear the uniform. I think that's the foundation for all," he said, going on to speak about the MISSION Act, which passed in Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support and strong backing from service organizations.

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Wilkie said the law, which goes into effect June 6, allows veterans the option of seeking private care if they do not live near a V.A. facility or they are unable to get the necessary treatment through the V.A.

"It will be a new day for all those partners who worked together for veterans' health," said Wilkie.