“In all fairness, Gen. Peake was really busy setting up combat hospitals in the Iraq and Afghanistan war zones,” VCS Executive Director Paul Sullivan said. “And he gets an ‘A’ for doing a fine job at that. But when it came to the long-term outpatient health care needs and long-term benefits for soldiers leaving the military … Peake dropped the ball.”
December 6, 2007 – A retired general who once commanded the hospital at Fort Bragg spoke Wednesday before the U.S. Senate in a hearing to determine whether he should lead the federal Department of Veterans Affairs.
Retired Lt. Gen. James Peake — who served at Fort Bragg as commander of the 44th Medical Brigade and as the post’s health services director — pledged to be an advocate for injured veterans and to fight for funding for their care.
Peake, who is 63, became commander of the 44th Medical Brigade at Fort Bragg in 1992. He left in 1994 to command Madigan Army Medical Center at Fort Lewis, Wash.
Peake retired from the Army in 2004 after being lead commander in several medical posts, including four years as the U.S. Army surgeon general.
In the 2½-hour confirmation hearing, The Associated Press reported, Peake also vowed to work on making headway in fixing gaps in care and reducing delays in disability pay.
But Peake hedged on offering specific solutions, according to the AP, deferring to detailed briefings he will receive later if confirmed. He indicated that his greatest mark on the agency in the waning months of the Bush administration might be improved communications with the Defense Department.
The AP reported that most major veterans organization are not opposed to Peake’s nomination.
But at least one group has reservations.
Paul Sullivan, executive director of Veterans for Common Sense, a non-profit group that advocates for veterans’ rights, said his organization is concerned about the long-term health care veterans will receive from a VA under Peake’s direction. Sullivan said he is concerned because Peake was surgeon general of the Army when problems at Walter Reed Army Medical Center came to light.
“In all fairness, Gen. Peake was really busy setting up combat hospitals in the Iraq and Afghanistan war zones,” Sullivan said. “And he gets an ‘A’ for doing a fine job at that.
“But when it came to the long-term outpatient health care needs and long-term benefits for soldiers leaving the military … Peake dropped the ball.”
Sullivan said he expects Peake to be confirmed as VA secretary. The Associated Press reported that the full Senate is expected to confirm his nomination as early as this month.
Staff writer Laura Arenschield can be reached at email@example.com or at 486-3572.