WASHINGTON — Leaders from the country’s largest veterans groups on Wednesday held a private event to honor fired Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, indicating a growing rift between the administration and some of the most prominent advocates for the veterans community.
The event, held at the Disabled American Veterans headquarters in town, was a chance for the groups to thank Shulkin for his 13 months leading the department and praise his “bipartisan” approach to the job.
The evening ceremony also honored Shulkin’s former chief of staff, Vivieca Wright Simpson, who abruptly retired in February amid allegations she doctored internal emails so the department would pay for Shulkin’s wife to accompany him on an overseas trip last summer. Veterans groups praised her 32 years of work in VA, much of it interacting with them.
Shulkin’s remarks at the event were more cordial that others he has given since President Donald Trump dismissed him over Twitter last month. White House officials said his handling of the travel scandal had become a distraction, but Shulkin in numerous media appearances has said he was forced out of office by