Obama to name new VA chief

President Obama intends to nominate West Point graduate Bob McDonald --most recently chairman of Procter & Gamble, a Fortune 500 company -- as the secretary for the embattled Department of Veterans Affairs, wracked by a scandal of systemic delays in health care.

The nomination of McDonald was confirmed by two administration officials who declined to be identified ahead of the official announcement.

It comes a little more than four weeks after Obama's original choice as VA secretary when he took office in 2009 -- former Army Gen. Eric Shinseki -- resigned under fire.

The agency undersecretary for the Veterans Health Administration and the VA general counsel also have tendered their resignations.

McDonald was with Procter & Gamble for 33 years. As CEO, he oversaw more than 120,000 employees, with operations around the world, selling products in more than 180 countries and more than 2.5 million stores, reaching more than 5 billion customers.

He is the son of an Army Air Corps World War II veteran who graduated in the top 2% of his class at the U.S. Military Academy and served five years in the Army.

Word of the new nominee surfaced just 48 hours after Obama received a scathing internal review of the Department of Veterans Affairs on Friday.

A summary of those findings released Friday depicted a vast health care system -- 150 hospitals and 820 outpatient clinics treating 6 million a veterans year -- in which there was a "corrosive culture: marked by low morale, poor middle management and widespread distrust between workers and supervisors. The result was a chronic failure to get tens of thousands of veterans health care quickly, the review said.

There was muted reaction to McDonald from the veterans community.

"We still are trying to figure out who he is and what he's about," said Garry Augustine, a top official with Disabled American Veterans, one of the nation's largest veterans service groups. "He's not well known in the veteran community. Not known at all. We're looking forward to meeting him."

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., chairman of the Senate VA committee, said the he is looking forward to learning more of McDonald's views on the needs of the agency, which Sanders says include increased funding for doctors, nurses and other medical staff.

Under his leadership at Procter & Gamble, the company was recognized for leadership within its ranks and named No. 1 in Hay Group's Best Companies for Leadership study, which analyzes more than 2,200 companies around the world.


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