I am grateful to President Obama and to Congress for this opportunity to join the dedicated employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and I am honored to serve as your Secretary and lead VA. We are immensely fortunate to work in an organization with the noblest and most respected mission in Government--serving this Nation's Veterans.
We have strong institutional values--Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect, and Excellence. We will all need to depend on and live by our values as we rise to meet the challenges ahead. Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson--my West Point classmate, a trusted friend, and a great leader--had it right in his recent statement to Congress: "We can turn these challenges into the greatest opportunity for improvement in the history of the Department."
I recognize that the last few months have been difficult--and the days ahead will not be easy. In fact, many tasks that we must accomplish will be difficult, but I assure you that I will be with you each step of the way. I want to hear your ideas for improving the Department, and I will not tolerate those who stifle initiative, seek to punish people who raise legitimate concerns or report problems, or lack integrity in word or deed. Trust is essential in everything we do.
I am proud of the work you do and the mission we share, and I am determined to move forward to ensure that VA is the provider of choice for care and benefits for every generation of America's Veterans.
I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible in the coming days. God bless you all.