WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), Chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, held a hearing today on the nomination of Michael Kussman, M.D. to be Under Secretary for Health of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Dr. Kussman is currently the acting Under Secretary for Health.
"This nomination comes before the Senate at a difficult and challenging time for VA. The terrible conditions at Walter Reed put a spotlight on VA health care. With each passing day, more and more servicemembers are returning from war with serious traumas and injuries, which for some will mean a lifetime of care from VA. As servicemembers reach out to VA, inevitably we hear tragic stories of those who did not get the care they needed. I urged Dr. Kussman, if confirmed, to first and foremost serve as an advocate for veterans despite the constraints placed upon him by the White House and OMB. I promised Dr. Kussman my full cooperation and assistance, but I will not be satisfied unless he works to uphold the promises made to all our troops," stated Akaka.
Witnesses at today's hearing, in addition to Dr. Kussman, included, Darrell G. Kirch, M.D., President of the Association of Medical Colleges; Fredrick J. Frese III, Ph.D., Member of the National Board of Directors for the National Alliance on Mental Health Illness; Douglas Mitchell, President, Association of VA Social Workers; and Robert E. Wallace, Executive Director, Veterans of Foreign Wars.