SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Denis McDonough, spoke with news crews after touring the San Diego VA Medical Center in La Jolla.
He said challenges he's heard of from our local veterans and community leaders are issues with transportation support in the VA system, the tight housing market, homelessness, and making sure veterans feel safe coming into VA facilities for care, especially coming out of COVID.
“I say this to people all the time, I was nominated by the president, I was confirmed by the senate, but I work for the vets,” McDonough.
He said immediate action is underway to address the issues veterans are facing.
“The president just submitted a budget request that grows the healthcare budget at about 12 percent,” he said. “We also want to make sure when a veteran wants to get access to care in a timely way, that he or she gets that care.”
McDonough also said the government is working on housing 38,000 homeless veterans nationwide.
McDonough was hosted by Congressman Mike Levin, who introduced a bill recently signed into law, that renames the VA Medical Center in La Jolla after a local veteran.
“The legislation I especially want to highlight today is the bipartisan bill, that President Biden recently signed into law, to rename this facility after U.S. Army Captain Jennifer Moreno,” Levin said.
Captain Jennifer Moreno was a highly decorated combat veteran from San Diego who was killed in action during a deployment to Afghanistan in 2013. Levin says he's proud that this facility is the first VA Medical Center in the nation, named after a Latina Veteran.
“Her story is inspiring, her family's commitment to this facility is awe-inducing. and importantly, her story reflects the increasingly central role that women play in the united states armed forces,” said McDonough.
McDonough and Levin also met with veterans in San Marcos and Oceanside Wednesday.