Jon Jensen, host of “Chats with the Chief,” is VHA’s Chief of Staff. This week, he’s joined by VA Secretary Denis Richard McDonough.
During his confirmation hearing, Secretary McDonough testified to Congress, “I will work tirelessly to build and restore VA’s trust as the premier agency for ensuring the well-being of America’s Veterans. After all, there is no more sacred obligation nor noble undertaking than to uphold our promises to our Veterans, whether they came home decades ago or days ago.”
Secretary McDonough grew up in Minnesota in a family of 11 children, graduated from St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, and earned his master’s degree from Georgetown University. He and wife, Kari, have three children.
Wife’s care for military families
In this chat, McDonough reveals how his wife has influenced his career and his thinking. He talks about how she has been involved in the care for military families from her time working with them at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
Since starting his new assignment, he has been very impressed by what VA does for Veterans, and that it is “motivating to see the common purpose of all VA employees… the Veterans.”
He explains why he was so moved by reading the book “This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War” by Drew Gilpin Faust.
Home care innovation being led by VA
McDonough talks about the success of VA’s home-based care programs and commends a staff member who administered care for a Veteran in rural Texas, where innovation in home care in America is being led by VA.
Reflecting on his many travels already as VA Secretary, he describes being impressed by the Community Living Center (nursing home) staff at the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center in Wichita, Kansas.
All part of something bigger than ourselves
Asked for advice, he says he believes we are all part of something much bigger than ourselves and explains why we should all give back.