Suggesting that the problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs stem mainly from management issues, President Obama has selected Bob McDonald, a former chief executive of Procter & Gamble, to head the department. According to the Washington Post, Obama will announce the nomination on Monday, one month after Eric Shinseki resigned amid reports of long wait times at VA facilities nationwide, and an ensuing effort to cover up the problem. McDonald is an unconventional choice for VA secretary. While he graduated at the top of his class from West Point, he left the military for an entry-level position at P&G after becoming a captain in the 82nd Airborne Division. After 33 years at the company behind brands like Tide, Crest, and Charmin, McDonald resigned from his position as chief executive in May 2013 due to investors’ concerns that about his ability to boost the company’s performance.
During his years in the private sector, McDonald maintained close ties to the military and West Point, establishing the McDonald Cadet Leadership Conference at his alma mater. While some expressed concerns about McDonald’s ability to relate to veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, his selection was widely praised on Sunday night, even by the GOP. (The New York Times reports McDonald has only made contributions to Republican candidates, including Mitt Romney and House Speaker John Boehner, which probably helped.)
In a statement, Boehner described him as “a good man, a veteran, and a strong leader,” who can implement “the kind of dramatic, systemic change that is badly needed and long overdue at the VA.” Of course, he did make one small jab at the president, cautioning that reform will only be possible if “his boss, the president, first commits to doing whatever it takes to give our veterans the world class health care system they deserve.”