Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

July 6, 2014

George Weeks: Benishek and Cannon address VA mess

Among Michigan’s 14 congressional districts, none has current candidates of both parties with the backgound to address the mess in the Veterans Administration as those in the 1st District that spans both peninsulas.

Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Iron River, for 20 years was a surgeon at a VA hospital in Iron Mountain; serves as chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommitte on Health, and has been active in pushing legislation to allow veterans on wait lists to receive care in local hospitals.

While clearly lacking Benishek’s medical and governmental experience in dealing with the issue, his Democratic opponent, former Kalkaska County Sheriff Jerry Cannon, as a former major general in the Michigan National Guard with years of experience overseas and in dealing with veterans, has an understanding of the issues they face.

Here are their reactions to Preident Barack Obama’s appointment last week of former Proctor & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald to head the troubled Department of Veterans Affairs:

Benishek, citing having “seen firsthand the bureaucratic dysfunction and complacency” in the department, said, “While new leadership is needed at the VA, it’s important to acknowledge that changing one or two people at the top will not solve the widespread problems are veterans are currently facing.” He called for greater cooperation with Congress.

Cannon called McDonald “a good fit” to head the VA and said, “His singular focus should be all about fixing the appointment process and changing the toxic, bureaucratic, process-oriented culture of the VA. This is the largest integrated health organization in the world, the possibilities for improvement are endless…”

U.S. Senate race

In his many legislative and congressional Oakland County races, three-term U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, who is battling Republican ex-Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land to fill the seat now held by retiring U.S. Sen Carl Levin, has always been endorsed by the United Auto Workers.

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