From Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki
WASHINGTON (March 13, 2009) – Following is an open letter to Veterans from Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki:
“My name is Ric Shinseki, and I am a Veteran. For me, serving as Secretary of Veterans Affairs is a noble calling. It provides me the opportunity to give back to those who served with and for me during my 38 years in uniform and those on whose shoulders we all stood as we grew up in the profession of arms.
“The Department of Veterans Affairs has a solemn responsibility to all of you, today and in the future, as more Veterans join our ranks and enroll to secure the benefits and services they have earned. I am fully committed to fulfilling President Obama’s vision for transforming our department so that it will be well-positioned to perform this duty even better during the 21st Century. We welcome the assistance and advice of our Veterans Service Organizations, other government departments and agencies, Congress, and all VA stakeholders as we move forward, ethically and transparently, so that Veterans and citizens can understand our efforts.
“Creating that vision for transforming the VA into a 21st Century organization requires a comprehensive review of our department. We approach that review understanding that Veterans are central to everything VA does. We know that results count, that the department will be measured by what we do, not what we promise, and that our best days as an organization supporting Veterans are ahead of us. We will fulfill President Lincoln’s charge to care for “. . . him, who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan . . .” by redesigning and reengineering ourselves for the future.
“Transforming any institution is supremely challenging; I know this from my own experience in leading large, proud, complex, and high-performing organizations through change. But the best organizations must be prepared to meet the challenging times, evolving technology and, most importantly, evolving needs of clients. Historically, organizations that are unwilling or unable to change soon find themselves irrelevant.
You and your needs are not irrelevant.
“Veterans are our clients, and delivering the highest quality care and services in a timely, consistent and fair manner is a VA responsibility.
I take that responsibility seriously and have charged all of the department’s employees for their best efforts and support every day to meet our obligations to you. Our path forward is challenging, but the President and Congress support us. They have asked us to do this well-for you. Veterans are our sole reason for existence and our number one priority-bar none. I look forward to working together with all VA employees to transform our department into an organization that reflects the change and commitment our country expects and our Veterans deserve.
“Thank you, and God bless our military, our Veterans, and our Nation.”
Signed: Eric K. Shinseki