November 1, 2007 – I’m going to make this short and sweet. Dr. James Peake (Lt. Gen. Ret.) should NOT be confirmed as the new VA Secretary. Just like the candied-apples that get handed out at Halloween, we have a pretty, sweet exterior…but, inside we have a rotten apple.
Dr. Peake is being sold to the American people as a doctor and decorated military veteran. While he is both, these do not qualify him to be VA Secretary. Listed below are five reasons Dr. Peake should NOT be confirmed.
1. Peake has no first-hand experience with the VA system. He is an outsider who will have to spend the next year trying to get up to speed. Veterans can’t afford such an unqualified person at the helm of the VA.
2. Peake, while Surgeon General of the Army (2000-2004), spoke often of his “efficiency” and his “financial objectives.” Basically, Peake is a number-crunching budget-slasher. VA needs someone to lobby for adequate funding…not someone who wrote this about his job at the Army: “…our duty to be responsible stewards of the taxpayers’ resources.”
3. Peake’s “financial objectives” mentioned above were well-realized as budgets for Walter Reed were kept low and jobs were outsourced. We saw what happened at Walter Reed. And, the problems there were known in 2004 as VA and DoD talked with patients about the problems. Those reports were buried. Peake cannot hide from these facts.
4. Peake, as he mentioned in his acceptance address, will push for full implementation of the Dole-Shalala Commission recommendations. If the Dole-Shalala legislation is passed, the VA disability compensation system will be changed forever. As Randy Reese of the DAV wrote, “At any point in time, disabled veterans would receive three types of variable payments. This is a recipe for abandoning the veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” And, it is a recipe to move backward and include all veterans in this unfair system.
5. Peake is currently chief medical director and chief operating officer of QTC Management Inc., which provides contract medical exams for the VA and the military. The Chairman of the QTC board is former VA Secretary Anthony Principi. QTC has garnered a multi-year VA contract that could be worth well over a billion dollars. This is as close as you can get to a conflict of interest. It’s just another example of the good ol’ boy revolving door in Washington. In simple terms: Those that have, get.
I encourage all veterans to pass this information along and to contact Members of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and strongly urge that Dr. James Peake NOT be confirmed as Secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
Contact the Senate Committee here: http://www.veterans.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?pageid=1