David Shulkin, 60, former Veterans Affairs secretary, was President Trump's only Cabinet member confirmed 100-0 by the Senate. He was fired in 2018.
The title of your book is “It Shouldn’t Be This Hard to Serve Your Country.” Can you talk a little about what drew you to serve your country in the VA?
You know, the title actually, interestingly, has a double meaning. First of all, the book is really for veterans and about veterans. And so I believe when you raise your hand to defend the country, you go off and you come back and you need our help, that it shouldn’t be this hard to get the help that you need. And so the bureaucracy that veterans in the past have experienced — the wait times; the trouble accessing services; the continued issues they’re having with getting the benefits that they deserve, including [some] Vietnam veterans who are now waiting more than 50 years [and] still can’t get the benefits from exposure to Agent Orange — it just shouldn’t be that hard. But of course, then the second meaning has to do with when you go into public service, whether you’re a career employee or whether you’re a political appointee going in to serve your government, that this should not be the experience that people are exposed to, the environment of personal attacks, the underhandedness and the sabotage of people trying to do their jobs. And we’re still seeing the same thing happening today.