Anthony Principi

Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Anthony Principi was Tuesday's guest. Here are excerpts from his remarks:

On the VA overall:

"VA is big, it is public, and it is not perfect. No heathcare system is.... [T]his is not ...my father's VA and it is not the VA when I came back from Vietnam. The VA is truly a leader...in care. "

On the hardest part of his job:

"It is sometimes like a battleship...right full rudder and it takes a month for the ship to turn around.... [T]hat is sometimes frustrating."

On the need for insurance to help those injured catastrophically:

"If you are killed, you get the $250,000 service group life insurance. But if you are just wounded and lose a leg and your wife is spending six months or a year in Washington, traveling back and forth, and not able to work...what do you do? It is troubling me. And I need to get more data and see if we need to try to come up with a proposal that would amend our insurance programs to provide some kind of catastrophic disabling injury type coverage. Because it is tough on the families."

On limiting access to VA medical facilities for better-off vets without service-related ills:

"What pains me about my decision [is] ...I've met men... who scaled the walls at Normandy...and they have shrapnel in their bodies.... They have never asked for a penny ...maybe they just want to use the VA healthcare system. That's the hard part for me because to me they are very deserving."

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