Timeline: VA turnover means acting secretaries becoming more common

For the fifth time in four years, major decisions are in flux at the Veterans Affairs Department as a new leader takes over. Robert Wilkie, under secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, assumed the role of acting secretary after President Donald Trump fired David Shulkin on Wednesday.

Wilkie is the VA’s seventh acting secretary in its history. The Senate will now consider the nomination of White House doctor Ronny Jackson to replace Shulkin.

The VA’s turnover means acting secretaries are becoming more frequent, as evidenced by the three such office holders who have come and gone since 2014. By comparison, from 1992 to 2014 acting VA secretaries were separated by as many as two to seven years.

Shulkin’s tenure included reports of low employee morale and pressure to privatize the agency, but he was not the first VA secretary to have a rocky career. Click through the interactive timeline to see who else has held the tumultuous position over the last nearly-three decades.

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