SEN. CRAIG PRAISES VA SECRETARY JIM NICHOLSON
U.S. Senator Larry Craig issued the following statement today upon learning that Secretary of Veterans Affairs R. James NicholsonSen. Craig and Sec. Nicholson will be leaving his post no later than October 1, 2007. In his official statement to the media, Nicholson noted that he will turn 70 years old early next year and desires to return to business.
Sen. Craig served as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs from 2005 through 2006, and now serves as the Ranking Member of the Committee. Here is his statement:
"Secretary Nicholson has done a great job of leading and managing the Department of Veterans Affairs. I am sorry to see him leave but certainly wish him well in his new endeavors.
"I have known Jim for a long time and I was pleased when he called me from his post as Ambassador to the Vatican, and said that President Bush had asked him to take the helm at VA. I pointed out that the challenges would be tremendous and VA could really use his leadership.
"Secretary Nicholson was willing to rise up and take on those challenges, and has worked tirelessly to fulfill VA's mission to care for him who shall have borne the battle, his widow, and his orphan.'
"Under his leadership, VA's healthcare system has continued to receive numerous awards for excellence - that's truly remarkable when you consider VA treats 1 million patients a week.
"Secretary Nicholson has fought hard to improve care for those dealing with traumatic brain injuries and PTSD. He recently directed his agency to hire more outreach coordinators to make sure those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan get the care they need, and he approved over 80 new community clinics to bring VA care closer to the nation's veterans.
"In 2005 the Secretary and I traveled to Iraq to examine how well the military health care system transitions wounded servicemembers from the battlefield, to Germany and then back to the United States. We traveled to Europe again this year and again met with wounded servicemembers who had been transported from the front lines to Germany for medical treatment. Secretary Nicholson reassured the wounded that the VA would be ready to provide them with the best medical care upon their return to the U.S., and that's what we are doing.
"Secretary Nicholson leaves behind a proud record of accomplishment for the nation's 24.5 million veterans."