(Washington, DC) Calling the path ahead a ?big, big job,? Chairman Larry Craig (R-Idaho) today said that he will vote to confirm Dr. Jonathon Perlin as the new Under Secretary for Health for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
?This is an exceedingly important position. The Under Secretary, in effect, serves as CEO of VA's entire health care system ? the largest integrated health care system in the United States,? Craig said at today's confirmation hearing held by the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs. Perlin has been the acting Under Secretary since April of last year.
Craig noted that Perlin's academic background is ?truly impressive.? He earned a bachelors degree from the University of Virginia, a master's degree in Health Administration from Virginia Commonwealth University, a Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Toxicology from the Medical College of Virginia, and an M.D. from the Medical College of Virginia.
?Never have I seen a resume so qualified,? said Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia)
Perlin noted that when he was a medical student he received part of his training at a VA medical center. ?My time at VA was my favorite part of the entire medical school experience. I had the privilege of taking care of some of the last Buffalo Soldiers and World War I doughboys ? along with veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam,? Perlin said.
Under questioning from senators, Perlin said that in the past year, ?I have come to truly appreciate how large this country is.? To meet the challenge for rural care, Perlin said that the VA now has 871 medical clinics nationwide. He said that the VA is now using telehealth and ?tele-mental-health? to enable veterans anywhere in the nation to be treated as close to home as possible.
Perlin noted that VA's research has been a big component in improving the nation's care. Research led by the VA developed the first effective therapies for tuberculosis, better fitting and lighter artificial limbs, the implantable cardiac pacemaker, both the CT and MRI machines and the nicotine patch.
?Today, VA researchers, focusing on veterans' needs, are on the verge of dozens of new discoveries and developments ? like the artificial retina,? Perlin said. ?But for all our successes in the last ten years, I know the past is but prologue to the present ? and the future.?