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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Aggie nominated for Cabinet position

Ronny+Jackson%2C+Class+of+1991%2C+was+nominated+for+Secretary%26%23160%3Bof+Veterans+Affairs+on+March+28.
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Ronny Jackson, Class of 1991, was nominated for Secretary of Veterans Affairs on March 28.

Navy rear admiral and Texas A&M University at Galveston former student, Dr. Ronny Jackson, Class of 1991, has been nominated by President Donald Trump as Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
Jackson has served as White House Physician for the past three administrations. Trump announced his nomination of Jackson via Twitter on March 28 after firing the previous VA secretery, David Shulkin, that same day. Robert Wilkie will be serving as interim secretary as the senate decides whether Jackson’s nomination will be confirmed. Jackson graduated from Texas A&M Galveston with a Bachelor of Science in marine biology and went to medical school at the University of Texas Medical Branch, where he graduated with his doctor of medicine in 1995, according to a news release from Texas A&M Galveston.
Grant Shallenberger, associate vice president for administration and auxiliary services at A&M Galveston, has known Jackson since 1989 when Jackson was on the resident advisor staff, quickly moving into the position of head resident advisor shortly after Shallenberger began working there.
“From the campus’ perspective, we kind of feel like — at least I kind of feel like — we got to a milestone long before most well established campuses do — to have somebody advance through his career as quickly as Ronny did, to make it to the position he’s in right now and to the one he’s been nominated for,” Shallenberger said.
Shallenberger said he believes Jackson has shown the Aggie core Values through his life and work, whether it be in the military or in his work in the White House.
“I think you can find pieces of who Ronny is that exemplify each of those core values,” Shallenberger said. “From his increasing responsibility within the Navy to his various awards and recognitions that he’s been given, just through his 23 years of service to the country and certainly service in the medical unit that really was without attention to political affiliations.”
Shallenberger said having a graduate from A&M Galveston in this position provides significant representation for the university.
“There’s obviously a lot of pride for the campus and for myself to know that Ronny got to where he is, and it’s not like he won the lottery or anything but he certainly earned where he’s at and it’s just a matter of pride for the campus to see one of our graduates get to where he is,” Shallenberger said.
Despite the qualities Jackson has shown, some are concerned with his lack of management experience when it comes to being qualified for the job. Dwight Roblyer, political science lecturer, said this is not just any normal federal bureaucratic position.
“The Department of Veterans Affairs is the second largest agency in the whole government; they are only behind the Department of Defense,” Roblyer said. “So this is a very large and complex bureaucratic organization, extremely challenging.”
Roblyer also said there are partisan issues playing out in this organization of the government. A veteran himself, Roblyer said the department has recently decided to switch over to electronic medical records, which has been less than satisfactory.
“What they have found is that they spent a whole lot of money to do that, and they have a system which is not working well at all,” Roblyer said. “So whoever takes over this place walks into that mess, in addition to the normal kinds of problems that we have with Veterans Affairs [that] folks face, which is a huge workload, a huge number of people who work for them and constant complaints of the backlogs that people aren’t being served, so this is not a cake walk.”
Roblyer said he expects Jackson to be looked at very carefully during the confirmation process because of his background.
“Just because you’re an admiral in the Navy doesn’t mean that you’ve run really, really huge organizations,” Roblyer said. “Especially given that this individual is a physician. So you can have some really high visibility positions, such as being the physician to the President of the United States, but people are looking at this individual’s background and we don’t see the kind of qualifications we would normally be looking for [in] a nominee to this position.”

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