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New VA Chief Visits San Diego

New VA Chief Visits San Diego

About six weeks into his new job as chief of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Robert McDonald made a stop in San Diego to visit the VA Medical Center in La Jolla.

San Diego County is the No. 1 destination for veterans who've served in Iraq and Afghanistan and the biggest challenge in our region said McDonald is building up enough capacity and personnel to properly serve them.

“I've been really excited to come here because in many ways San Diego the community is on the cutting edge of working together to create one Department of Veterans Affairs,” McDonald said.


McDonald says he came to San Diego to learn more about treatment programs like the ASPIRE Center in Old Town helping vets transition back into society. 

“Some say they're waiting too long for care, that's not the case as much here in San Diego, as in other parts of the country, although we have to be forward looking recognizing that many of our veterans who are leaving the service are settling in San Diego and we have to build our capacity ahead of that curve,” he said.

San Diego's VA Medical Center is adding more than 200,000 square feet of space to deal with appointment delays and troops suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. 

“Across the nation we've got significant problems with transparency, accountability and our issues with integrity are well documented, but I'm convinced the framework for changing VA is in place,” McDonald said.

To improve communications with veterans, nationwide town hall meetings are being conducted to get feedback. The first was held in Oceanside on Monday to identify areas of concern.