Trump’s VA pick says he’s ‘got what it takes’ to be secretary

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WASHINGTON — Ronny Jackson, President Donald Trump’s physician and pick for secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, said in his first interview since being nominated that he’s “got what it takes” to lead the department.

In a Sunday profile of Jackson in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, a newspaper located near Jackson’s hometown of Levelland, Texas, the White House doctor said: “I’ve been in leadership school for 23 years now. … And I’ve been able to rise to the level of an admiral, a flag officer in the Navy. I didn’t just stumble into that. So I’ve gotten a lot of leadership background.”

“You know, I’m not just an officer in the Navy; I’m an emergency medicine physician in the military. I’ve been confronted on a day-to-day basis with life and death decisions,” Jackson told the paper.

Jackson, whom Trump picked to be the VA’s next secretary last month, first worked in the White House under President George W. Bush, where he was assigned to care for first lady Laura Bush. After Bush left office, then-President Barack Obama appointed Jackson as his own physician, and he maintained the role under Trump.

Jackson, a rear admiral, told the paper that former Bush employees who were on the Trump transition team helped him keep his job under Trump.

“Some of the people that were working on the Trump transition had been a part of the Bush 43 administration, and they knew me,” Jackson told the paper. “They talked to President Trump about it, and I talked about it with him, and he just immediately appointed me as his physician as well.”

If confirmed, Jackson said he “won’t stay on active duty, I’ll be a vet right away.” His predecessor, who was dismissed by Trump last month, was not a veteran, which was widely noted after he was nominated in 2017.

According to the paper, Jackson noted in his interview that it’s in “his best interest and his children’s best interest to do what is right for veterans.”

“We owe the vets the absolute best care that’s available out there,” Jackson said.

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