VA Secretary fired by Trump: It shouldn’t ‘be this hard to serve your country’

David Shulkin, the former Veterans Affairs Secretary fired this week by President Donald Trump, sounded off on the “toxic” environment the Trump administration has created in Washington in a new op-ed piece.

In an op-ed for the New York Times on Wednesday, Shulkin said it has been his “greatest professional honor” to serve the nation’s veterans, which he called a “sacred duty” that he will remain committed to.

But he was less sanguine about the “chaotic” atmosphere Trump has brought to Washington with his high level of staff turnover and officials promoting personal agendas instead of doing what’s best for veterans.

“In recent months, though, the environment in Washington has turned so toxic, chaotic, disrespectful and subversive that it became impossible for me to accomplish the important work that our veterans need and deserve,” Shulkin wrote.

Shulkin — the only Obama-appointed Cabinet member to keep a job in the Trump administration — listed his accomplishments at the department and stated that he would “continue to speak out against those who seek to harm the V.A. by putting their personal agendas in front of the well-being of our veterans.”

“As I prepare to leave government, I am struck by a recurring thought: It should not be this hard to serve your country,” Shulkin said.

Trump had announced Shulkin’s firing on Twitter — as he has done with former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and others — which came as a surprise, considering he had previously held Shulkin in high regard.

“I am pleased to announce that I intend to nominate highly respected Admiral Ronny L. Jackson, MD, as the new Secretary of Veterans Affairs,” Trump tweeted Wednesday. “In the interim, Hon. Robert Wilkie of DOD will serve as Acting Secretary. I am thankful for Dr. David Shulkin’s service to our country and to our GREAT VETERANS!”

Shulkin’s ouster was likely due to a recent report which accused him of waste and misusing taxpayer money at the VA — something he denied.

“I have been falsely accused of things by people who wanted me out of the way. But despite these politically-based attacks on me and my family’s character, I am proud of my record and know that I acted with the utmost integrity. Unfortunately, none of that mattered,” Shulkin said.

During Shulkin’s tenure, he noted that the VA improved the appeals process for veterans seeking disability benefits, expanded access to health care and mental health services and reduced unemployment among veterans to some of the lowest levels in years while boosting trust in the agency.