Barack Obama’s Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald refused to apologize for claiming that wait times for medical care shouldn’t be a measure of success because Disneyland doesn’t account for wait times either.
On Monday, McDonald said, “When you got to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line? Or what’s important? What’s important is, what’s your satisfaction with the experience? And what I would like to move to, eventually, is that kind of measure.” (RELATED: VA Sec Hides Behind DISNEYLAND To Defend Treatment Of Veterans)
Mitchell asked, “Can you understand why people were offended by your analogy of the Disney lines to the wait times for care for people, some of whom have actually died, according to all the testimonies while waiting to be seen by the VA in the past?”
“Andrea, I’m a veteran. I have put my life endanger for this country. I have served with those who have put their own lives in danger. I came out of retirement to do this job because I care so deeply about those men and women who served our country. And I have been over 300 VA facilities now in about 20 months. And I sit down and I talk to veterans and I listen to them and I listen to their concerns. And nothing drives me crazy more than our inability to provide timely care for them.”
“I’am working as hard as I can to do this and I’m bringing together all the experience that I’ve had to do it. Things are improving but they’re are not where they need to be and we are working hard to give them there.”
Recognizing that there was no apology in that statement, Mitchell asked again, “Now given all that, are you sorry that you said what you said?”
“Look, as I said, I am here to improve the veteran experience, I am here to get more veterans in for care, I’m here to reduce the disability claims black log. You know, wait times are important but it is not the only measure of veterans experience,” McDonald said.
“And that’s what veterans are telling us,” McDonald claimed. “You know, we’ve talked to a lot of veterans. It’s important and if I was misunderstood or said the wrong thing, I am glad that I have to correct it.”
Mitchell then asked, “And, do you think that you need to communicate to Congress given the criticism that you are now facing from the Speaker of the House?”
“We report to Congress frequently. We had a hearing several weeks ago, in fact theres’s a hearing today so we have many opportunities to communicate to Congress,” McDonald replied. “The leaders of Congress know why I’m here.”
McDonald then claimed that some House and Senate leaders of the Veterans Affair committees have even told him that they want him to “wanted me to stay for the next administration.”
“You know, I don’t know what’s going to happen but I’m focused on one thing… and that’s better caring for veterans. That’s my job, that’s why I am here, and that’s what I’m working hard to do.”
Later, McDonald complained about having to sit down with Mitchell and conduct an interview after Mitchell asked, “Has the White House weighed in on this at all privately with you?”
“I’ve been off site. The reason I’m dressed casually is I’ve been off site at a leaders developing leaders program where we train the leaders of the VA. So I have not been in my office, I have not been communicating with many people because I do much of that training myself and me sitting here talking to you is obviously taking my time away from that training. And that training is about again, improving the veteran experience and getting more people in the care.”