McDonald Stresses Integrity in First Message to VA Employees

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald AP Photo

Acknowledges “days ahead will not be easy."

Robert McDonald, sworn in as secretary of Veterans Affairs yesterday, emphasized VA institutional values -- integrity, commitment, advocacy, respect and excellence -- in his first message to employees today.

In an oblique reference to the patient scheduling debacle that has roiled the agency since April, McDonald said: “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."

He urged VA employees to come up with ideas to improve the department and warned he will not accept employees who lack integrity.

 “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,” McDonald said. “Trust is essential in everything we do.”