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IAVA | June 27, 2018

Read: #AskWilkie: IAVA Members Sound Off

This morning, we revealed the results from our most recent survey on the confirmation hearing for the next VA Secretary. Over a thousand IAVA members from around the country sounded off; and while we’ve already shared the top lines far and wide, we also want to share all the thoughtful and impactful comments and questions our members had for the nominee.

This is a visual representation of responses to the question “What question(s) do you hope to see asked of Mr. Wilkie during his confirmation hearing?” The full answers follow below.

Wilkie questions word cloud

What question(s) do you hope to see asked of Mr. Wilkie during his confirmation hearing?*

What is the path to restoring VA confidence ? What does success look like?

What will he specifically do to improve and streamline the VA disability claims and award system?

How do you feel about keeping the VA from privatization such as augmenting and improving existing VA service and staffing in rural areas/clinics? 

Why should we ensure that our Veterans benefits are non-negotiable and should not be curtailed?

How will you maintain high standards of care for all vets, including LGBT Vets?

How will Mr. Wilkie address wait times?

Do you support privatizing the VA?

For vets far from VA Hospitals will you get them into see civilian doctors? 

After all of your experience working for the government, will you use that experience to bring the Department of Veterans Affairs where it should be in the 21st century?

What does Mr. Wilkie see as the VA’s biggest challenge to providing veterans with access to timely, quality care so many veterans are in need of today?

Do you support the idea of privatizing the VA?

How is he going to fix the VA system? How is the VA going to address veteran homelessness? How will he improve VA facilities that have long wait times, poor conditions, and lack luster care providers?

Do you advocate privatizing VA health care? Do you think that funding of the Choice Program and, as a result, the underfunding of the Veterans Health Care is an effort to privatize the VA Health Care? Please explain.

How will you improve care for wounded and disabled (physically and mentally) vets?

How does Mr.Wilkie foresee carrying out quality care methods uniformly in all VA Centers in the coming fiscal years?

Why are the program for female combat veterans dealing with PTSD and other related issues not more widely available?

How is he going to bring about change to the VA system which has been criticized by many for failing those very veterans that they’re suppose to protect? What will those changes be? Who or what will be his primary focus as the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs?

Do you have the character and fortitude to make decisions that are based on mutual respect and safety and wear the white hat throughout your term?

What can be done to report VA abuse outside of the VA? What rights do veterans have to sue for malpractice?

Will veterans have the freedom of choice for health services rather than forced to be seen at a VA facility?

What unique veteran-related strengths qualify you for this crucial position in our government?

How will Mr. Wilkie address the homeless vets problems, vets needing mental health care, vets getting prompt approval for care for health problems and housing for families of disabled vets?

What programs will you create to ensure our women veterans are afforded the same VA services as their male counterparts? Do you support privatization of the VA and why?

How do you plan to effect change at a stagnant organization, and do you plan to review hiring practices at all VA Hospitals?

Will you stand up against POTUS if needed to defend veteran rights?


What steps will be taken to identify and correct deficiencies in veteran care, safety, confidence and administration of benefits? What steps need to be taken to have the same level of care in the VA as the private sector, as opposed to needing private providers to make up for deficiencies?

What does he plan to do different from that of he predecessors?

What is your position on the privatization of the VA health care system?

The VA has the ability to recruit outstanding talent. What are his plans to recruit and retain talented medical professionals?

What will he so to add transparency to the VA system?

How does he feel about entities like the DoD IG auditing and inspecting the VA?


What type of program will you bring forward to stop the continued rise in veteran suicide? Do you feel this should be a top issue facing the V.A.?

Does he oppose privatizing the VA?

Do Veterans deserve some form of special recognition for their service such as a tax benefit that corporations now receive?

What does he see as the single biggest challenge within the VA system?

What will be done to improve the quality of health care for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans?

What are concrete steps he will take immediately? What does his ideal team to run VA look like? What he clearly intends to do to reconnect with veterans and families?

Do you support privatization of the VA?

What is his top priority for health care? What does he feel he can do to help veterans transition to civilian life?

What changes, if any, does he plan to make to the VA? Where does he feel the VA can improve, and where does he feel it is strong?

What are your Top Three Specific Priorities for actions to fix/reform the VA?

How will Mr. Wilkie improve the time it takes for a veteran to pick up a phone and schedule an appointment and the actual appointment? Veterans need real help in real time. 

With a background largely based in foreign policy, how are qualified to lead one of the largest organizations in the US government?

If you helped author the plan for the reconstruction of Iraq, how do we know your plans to fix the VA won’t fail just as miserably? Will you prevent further privatization of the VA?

Why did you vote against equal pay for women in 1997? Why did you author a memo restricting congressional testimony to only senior officials & presidential appointees?

What are his views and proposed ideas for helping LGBTQ+ veterans get the care they need and, indeed, earned?

Name five things you will undertake in your first 100 days to assist homeless veterans?

In what order do you rank the priorities of the Department of Veterans Affairs? What are your personal priorities for reforming, updating and improving the VA?

I would like to know what his plans are for fixing the issues that have plagued the VA.

What is your philosophy of and goals for post-service care for America’s veterans, and what are your plans to demonstrate this philosophy and achieve these goals in light of the VA’s current situation?

Why do you think past Secretaries have not been able to achieve their goals? How do you plan to address these difficulties?

Is there adequate oversight of veteran’s nursing homes? What process do whistle blowers go through?

What plans does he have to address the chronic shortage of professional medical personnel within the Veterans Health Administration?

Are you committed to upgrading mental health treatments and support for veterans and their families? What do you propose to prevent and address Veteran homelessness?

What is his position on privatization of the VA? What is his position on expanding opportunities for Veteran minority-owned businesses?

What steps will you take to ensure Veterans are provided access to a wide variety of medical options, including medical marijuana?

What is his vision for women and LGBT veterans?

How do you propose to address the issues within the health system? What do you think should be done with the Chapter 31 Vocational Rehab program to address the issues of today’s veterans with the program? Should we continue to revamp Chapter 33 to help more so with veterans?

What medical and mental health revisions will he make to address Veterans health care 


What is his plan to shorten the wait time for appointments?

How are you going to address military sexual trauma?

How do we help veterans that are being currently pushed away/aside by the VA?

How will he expedite the disability compensation process? What are his priorities? How will he address veterans exposed to toxins to ensure their ailments are recognized for compensation?

Do you have the personal courage to terminate incompetent providers and close failing VA centers?

What are your plans to make quality employment opportunities available for veterans?

Will the VA screen for and recognize injuries caused by exposure to mefloquine?

Can you fix the VA?

What will Mr. Wilkie do to help give Veterans free dental care?

Will you make VA clinics recognize and treat mTBI?

How will you protect the VA from privatization?

What makes you want to help Veterans with their medical problems? Also how would you overcome the current veteran or service member suicide rate?

How will you implement a continual improvement process of the VA healthcare system?

What will he do to advance suicide prevention research?

What will you do for Veterans that hasn’t been done? There have been many negative VA leaders, what makes your different? What are your next steps for Vets?

How will you ensure that VA employees are properly trained to provide respectful, timely, and accurate service to Veterans and their families?

What is your stand on Agent Orange?

Will you stand up for vets or Mr. Trump?

What is he going to do to improve the wait for service?

How will you ensure veterans won’t have to worry about the future?

What he’s going to do regarding privatization? Also, what he’s going to regarding veteran access to cannabis in states where it’s already legal in some form?

How do you intend to speed up the process of getting veterans the best health care that they deserve?

Will you oppose the push to privatize the VA, as all the significant VSO’s have?

What he will do to see to it that our Veterans receive the care they earned and deserve?

What are the specifics that you plan to do to fix the VA medical issues for Vets?

How will service for women veterans improve?

What about vets that may have been exposed to chemical weapons in Iraq?

How will he integrate the DoD and VA health systems?

How will he fix the GI Bill enrollment process?

How will he address the burn pit problem?

What is his plans to fix the gaps of care & clearing the backlog?

How are plans being made for care outside of VA facilities and what are they?

Will you pledge not to increase the privatization of VA activities and will you add critical personal to mental health activities?

Many Iraq war veterans like myself have suffered years of medical issues i.e. skin rashes, respiratory issues, digestive system/organ issues. I personally would like to know more about the effects of anthrax shots and open burn pits so that I at least know what I am facing. Will the VA seek increased funding for research, or release the findings that they may already have?

Will you address the issues of vets exposed to toxic chemicals during their service?

How will you endeavor to maintain and sustain the VA Medical Network of Medical Centers, Community Based Outreach Centers, attract and sustain the talent needed to care for Veterans without diminishing coverage and care by championing the VA against those who want to completely dismantle and privatize the Network?

How does he plan to fully modernize and modify the VA? Is he a bureaucrat or a strategic leader and problem solver?

We, the Veterans, need to know where you stand with expanding access to care through in-house services, not through the community?

What do you feel makes you the best candidate to manage our national veterans health care system?

What changes in the VA do you feel will help the veterans obtain the help they need ASAP?

How will he handle retention of trained VA staff? What will he do to attract more medical professionals to work for low pay at the VA.?

How will he try and bring together the competitive factions of the VA?

What specific metrics would you use to measure VA’s future success and what roadblocks do you anticipate in achieving such success?

How will Mr. Wilkie work with Congress to make Veterans care a higher priority?

What is his response to allegations regarding equality of veterans/people?

What is his plan to make the agency more effective and responsive to veterans?

What is his stance on problems with IG and whistleblower programs?

What is his stance on further privatization and for fixing the VA?

What work experience has specifically prepared you to lead an agency of this size and complexity?

The history of the VA is marked by distrust of the agency from the veteran community, how do you expect to earn the trust of veterans of color, LGBTQ veterans, and others that you’ve very publicly disparaged and discriminated against?

How will you make the claims process more fair?

Explain to us your process for making quality decisions . How do you assess risk when making those decisions, and how do you determine what level of risk you are willing to take? Give us an example of a situation where you decided to take a risk and what was the outcome.

How will you better the services for American veterans?

In the area that I am in, the VA can not retain doctors. What will you do to stop the high turnover?

How are you going to ensure that every veteran in the U.S. who is eligible for VA benefits has the highest qualified staff taking care of them and what are your plans to reduce red-tape for veterans services?

How long will a Veteran have to wait to see a doctor? And if the VA can’t supply one on time can they see any doctor of their choice?

What does he plan to do to address the Veteran suicide numbers?

What are your plans to improve access, specifically for speciality care?

What is his position on the privatization of services for the VA?

What will be done to ensure women veterans needs are meet and are considered as important as men?

What experience do you have “on the ground” in a combat theater which qualifies you to be in control of VA Veterans’ Disability payments? 

How will you further implementation of Military Medical Records with the VA Medical records?

Do you feel your experience in the Reserves will assist you in handling the VA, due to the Reserve forces emphasis on readiness?

What improvements will be implemented to help vets get medical care, especially mental health care, in a timely manner?

What will you do to improve the suicide rate?

What are your plans for burn pit wellness?

How will he address chronic pain in the veteran community?

Will he have an open door policy to address a veterans concerns?

When will the VA and DOD streamline personnel information sharing for health care and proving verification that a veteran served in military?

Do you support a ban on transgender troops and if so why?

Will you support and serve the best interest of the veterans or what you feel is politically correct?

Will you support keeping the VA intact and not try to privatize all services?

What is his plan to fix the VA system?

Do you want to privatize the healthcare system?

How is he going to change the culture of the VA?

Where does he stand on privatization of the VA?

How is he going to address the shortage of mental health providers when you have an administration that doesn’t seem to be focused on Veterans Affairs?

Will you improve and expand the Veteran’s Choice program, while holding the line at any further privatization of VA services?

What do you want to accomplish and why do you want to lead the VA?

Why can’t vets exposed to dangerous chemicals be notified instead of having to apply and provide records?

How will you balance supporting VA operations against expansion of Choice?

How will you fill the open positions in the VA medical system?

Burn pits and his plan to further bring this issue and all of its research into consideration.

What do you plan to do about the VA hospitals being understaffed and not certified or other issues?

What will you do to improve the quality of care delivered at VA Hospitals? 

Support or oppose VA privatization efforts?

What can he do to help streamline making appointments to the VA?

What are your plans for the backlog?

How do you plan to reduce wait times for VA services?

How is he going to surround himself with dedicated aides who will fix the VA System?

How will he fix the broken VA system?

What fundamental organizational changes are you going to be making to affect your relationship with the VISN directors and VA headquarters?

How do you plan to increase accessibility of appointments?

When so many others have failed to fix the problems at VA Hospitals, what plan to succeed do you have that will make a difference?

How will you improve veterans health care issues? How are you going to improve the long waiting times for VA claims and payments.

What steps will you be taking in order to prevent the veteran’s suicide epidemic?

What is his plan to expedite the long flailing errors with our current system?

How is he going to fast track for our Female Veterans health care and continue to improve so it can be caught up to standards?

What is he planning on for VA Choice Program? We know funds are running out, bills keep coming to Veterans, causing financial woes, destroying Credit reports and exacerbating stress for families?

Will your loyalty be to the Veterans or the President?

How would Mr. Wilkie evolve metrics like GDX and data like VetPop to help state governments better understand and reach their veterans?

How will he change the culture at the VA from a “culture of no” to one that treats veterans with respect and seeks to bring them the best care possible?

Do you support the president’s efforts to privatize the VA?

Will you respect the wishes of, and work on behalf of, the overwhelming number of veterans who do not wish to see the VA privatized?

What will you do to make the VA care better for veterans?

Mr. Wilkie we all know you are a veteran. During you military life or afterwards have you used, on a regular basis, any of the VA service or programs? If you have what were your observations & experiences?

How is he going to make the veterans’ choice work?

Cannabis use for VETERANS with a VA rating.

I would like to know if the early retirement for Guard & Reserve will go back to 2001?

Why do veteran education benefits vary from state to state? Why can’t I transfer my Post 9-11 GI Bill benefits to my daughter who is about to start college?

Will he stand only for his position at the VA and in support of the Constitution?

Will you allow any veteran with a cancer diagnosis to be forced to wait for care, until it’s too late?

Will the VA fix the situation with Disability compensation and debt payment?

Is your agenda to privatize the VA?

What is his view on medical marijuana for veterans?

As the new Secretary, what immediate improvements are your priorities and will you do to sustain and improve benefits for all Veterans?

What are your plans to improve health care for Veterans?

Do you support private health care options for Vets?

Do you support the Post 9-11 GI-Bill?

What is your highest priority? Who is your hero?

Does he have a plan that increases veterans level of care, base privileges and access, and claims processing?
Does he plan to hollow out the VA by outsourcing care to the private sector?

How he plans to address veteran suicide and the massive amount of bureaucracy that exists within the VA system?

Will he overhaul the veterans compensation appeal system?

Mr. Wilkie, will you fight for our benefits or will you have loyalty to the president?

Will he try to streamline the systems which are utilized for active duty and vets, or at least make an effort to make the two more compatible?

How will he address vets with PTSD, especially those who are homeless?

Will he publicly and definitively commit to improving the existing VA system, and oppose efforts to privatize veterans care?


What is his assessment of the initial steps taken by Secretary McDonald & Secretary Shulkin to address timely access to care for veterans within the VA healthcare system, and what is his intent for action?


How will he convert the VA into a TOP civilian health care system? How is he going to fix the antiquated VA system? Does he support ensuring ALL federal employees use only VA system?

What is the plan to offer more access to reasonable accommodation when scheduling appointments?

What will he do for the LGBT community?

Will you support the use of medical marijuana for vets?

How will he improve overall vet care, including mefloquine damage, marijuana treatments, and LGBT care?

What are his plans for improving the VA and assuring accountability of those in charge?

Are you willing to work on behalf of Veterans, for veterans, with Veterans, and for the best interest of Veterans and not for the White House and politicians interests and political gain?

Burn pits have been the Iraq and Afghanistan wars’ Agent Orange; what is your plan going forward handling veterans claims and treatment of illnesses caused by the irresponsible use of burn pits?

Would you support using alternative care, like chiropractic care, weight loss programs and prescriptions, which are not currently available at the VA or support payment by the VA for this care?

How will Mr. Wilkie speed up the process for our vets to get the treatment they need without the long waiting list?

How he will provide quality care in all aspects of veterans healthcare?

Are you willing to do what is needed even if it is popular or unpopular, to help your brother and sister veterans?

Doctors and staff at VA clinics and hospitals work hours and intensity are a) greater b) the same c) less Than their private sector colleagues? If c), what is your plan to get higher work output? How will you recruit & retain docs? Would you consider a plan that hires retired military and VA doctors back part time?

What kind of gender-specific support does he plan to give to the LGBT veterans?

How will he effectively change the VA to better serve veterans?

What business experience do you have that qualifies you more than anyone else to manage the affairs of the VA?

Do you support privatization of the VA?

What experience if any do you have directing, administering an organization as big as VA?

Why do you think your bureaucratic experience, as opposed to any combat experience, will give you any insight into veterans’ issues, such as suicide, homelessness, and drug and alcohol abuse? Have you had any experience managing any entities tasked with confronting these issues?

How can we help veteran spouses who support their partners battling PTSD, TBI, etc. and also trying to work and take care of kids at the same time?

How is he qualified to be the VA Secretary?

What is the #1 priority the VA can work on to improve the trust veterans need to have in their health care system?

What will you do to ensure every veteran receives the medical care they were promised while they served on active duty?

What is your position on medical marijuana?

Do you have the veterans best interests at heart? What can we expect to see you accomplish during your time as the VA Secretary?

Can he fix the VA problem of getting Veterans approved faster for their benefits.

With the recent burn pit decision placing the blame on the military, what will he do to take care of our suffering Veterans?

What are his plans to streamline the VA system to allow changes in personnel to be made promptly should evidence of incompetence and ineptitude is found impeding the provision of medical care to veterans?

What are you intentions to improve the mission of the VA? How do you intend to combat the scourge of veteran suicide in our country?


What is he going to do differently than all previous Secretaries in order to deal with the massive problems with the VA?


Does he support privatization of the VA? What are his views on the expansion of the Choice Program? How does he plan on bettering the VA as a whole but also Mental Health Services? What does he see as the main issues facing the VA?


What are your top 3 priorities for the 90 days after your appointment?


How will his service best assist disabled Veterans who are not even in their 40s?


What are his plans regarding the quality of health care veterans are receiving and his ability to ensure the best Physicians are hired or maintained at the VA.?


Why hasn’t bladder cancer been added to Vietnam Veterans Presumptive list after IOM approval level and Shulkin’s recommendation, since that is what has been the norm for other diseases on the presumptive list?


How does he intend to address the backlog of claims and claim appeals? How does he intend to improve the quality of initial claims decisions such that an appeal is unnecessary?


Does he support or oppose VA health care privatization?


What would you do to improve the ongoing physical, mental, and economic care of veterans, and how would you accomplish it?


There are thousands of female Iraq/Afghanistan veterans who have not been receiving the benefits they deserve in light of suffering MST, TBIs, burn pit effects and other service-related injuries. What measures are you prepared to undertake to address this long-standing imbalance in the way the VA has treated female war veterans?


Does he support giving a card to Veterans with private insurance to cover copays and deductibles as a healthcare option? Basically the VA process but in reverse with the VA as secondary which allows the vet to choose their providers.


What will you do to close the time gap between the identifying of a need for an appointment/procedure and the procedure being done?


What will you do to take care of Veterans?


What is he willing to do for post-9/11 era female veterans to ensure equal access to care at VA?


Does he support privatization of the VA?


What are your qualifications in healthcare administration?


What is your plan to support veterans? Do you support privatization of veterans health care?


Did you play any role in the Trump administration’s attempt to ban transgender service members from service? What was your advice to the SECDEF regarding transgender service members? Why didn’t your office recommend officially supporting Pentagon Pride, this year? Have you ever been in direct combat?


Burn pits, where do you stand?


Can you explain your position on barring able-bodied Americans from serving in the military based solely upon their gender identity?


What are his plans for having the VA treat and screen veterans with environmental exposure concerns (e.g., burn pits, dust/sand, depleted uranium)?


What is his position on VA privatization?


What does Mr. Wilkie see as the most important role(s) of the VA as we move further into the 21st Century. Does Mr. Wilkie have an overall philosophy as to the running of the VA? Would Mr. Wilkie be willing to speak out against the current Administration and/or Congress if he feels the VA is not being treated appropriately or fairly?


How will you ensure that all vets are treated fairly and not ignored like the past with money being considered over the health of the vet as a whole?


What are your qualifications to lead an organization the size of the VA? What experiences do you bring to bear which will benefit the VA and U.S. veterans?


What is his position on supporting VA staff and focusing on talent recruiting and retention versus privatization of services?


Will you work with current military commanders to reduce sexual assault and sexist discriminatory practices in our military(for your future Veteran community)?


Will you implement privatization of the VA, meaning turning over the entirety of the VA to private ownership? What will you do to prevent veteran and active duty suicides?


How can we enable outside healthcare providers the ability to accept veterans who live long distances away from VA hospitals to be seen/have their VA benefits insurance accepted at those establishments?


What experience do you have leading a campaign to solve complex problems?


What 5 things, in your opinion, is the VA doing right? 5 things Wrong?


How much risk are you willing to take to drastically improve the efficiency of the VA?


What are your top 5 priorities to address as head of VA? What kind of leader are you?


What are you most proud of accomplishing?


Would you support or fight efforts to privatize veterans care?


Does he favor or not favor VA Privatization?


What experience and skills do you bring to the table in making the VA a better place for our veterans today and for the future?


With regard to the expansion of CHOICE, can you appreciate that Veterans believe that privatization is still a part of the discussion ?


What will he do to speed up the treatment appointments for veterans?


What’s going to happen with the burn pit situation? Are vets going to have to wait like the Agent Orange vets?


Will you continue to support and ensure the Big 6 priorities as reported by IAVA are being held to the highest regard?


What can we do about Veterans with jobs in smaller communities on the outskirts of big cities as far as homeless and other aspects of services needed?


Are you really going to look out for active duty and veterans from all branches? And also the veterans that could help in that area to make sure everyone gets the treatment and help he or she needs?





*Questions will be added throughout the day on 6/27/18. Questions were lightly edited for grammar and spelling. Inappropriate or offensive comments and questions are not included.

Methodology: Emails were sent to IAVA members inviting them to participate in IAVA’s survey on Mr. Robert Wilkie’s confirmation hearing. The survey was also made available to members on IAVA’s internal platform: myIAVA. The survey was available over a 48 hour period from 5 AM  on 6/25/18 to 5 AM on 6/27/18.
The numbers reported are from 1,225 IAVA veteran and service members who completed the survey. The margin of error for this survey is +/- 2.8 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. The results represents only data collected from the military and veteran community.





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