Peake Wins OK as Secretary of Veterans Affairs Agency
The Senate by voice vote on Friday confirmed retired Army Lt. Gen. James Peake as the Department of Veterans Affairs secretary, CQ Today reports (Yoest, CQ Today, 12/14).
President Bush said one of Peake's first tasks will be to implement recommendations of the presidential commission on veterans' health care, led by former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) and former HHS Secretary Donna Shalala. The recommendations include aggressively treating post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, as well as streamlining VA processes and improving support for families (AP/Detroit News, 12/15).
According to CQ Today, lawmakers have indicated that they expect swift results from Peake, who comes to the agency "at a time when it faces unprecedented demand for health services from both new and old veterans," in addition to a "looming backlog of veterans awaiting decisions on their disability claims."
Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chair Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) said, "Dr. Peake has a vast challenge before him and narrow time frame to get things done." He added, "I look forward to working with him to improve the health care and benefits veterans have earned through their service, and to provide a seamless transition from military service to veterans' status." Bush in a statement said that Peake's "decades of expertise in combat medicine and health care management have provided him with a thorough understanding of the department's responsibility to care for America's veterans" (CQ Today, 12/14).