VA secretary visits Leavenworth

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times
Denis McDonough, center, speaks Thursday during a visit to the Eisenhower VA Medical Center. McDonough is the secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Also pictured are William Patterson, director of the VA Heartland Network, and U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas.

The secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans of Affairs stopped in Leavenworth on Thursday as part of a two-day tour of facilities in Kansas.

“This is a unique opportunity to hear from veterans and providers in a rural state like Kansas about what we can do at the VA to improve outcomes and access for our vets,” Secretary Denis McDonough said. “That’s the whole purpose of this. We’ll take the findings and put those straight to work.”

McDonough spoke while visiting the Eisenhower VA Medical Center in Leavenworth.

McDonough said focusing on caring for rural veterans is a priority for President Joe Biden and a concern from leadership of the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, is the top Republican on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Moran is hosting McDonough during the secretary’s visit to Kansas.

Moran said McDonough’s visit originally had been planned for last week, but the secretary had to reschedule because Biden called a meeting of his cabinet.

McDonough, who was confirmed to his position by the Senate in February, said he was impressed by the women’s health clinic located at the Leavenworth VA hospital.

He said the clinic utilizes many of the best practices seen across the VA system.

McDonough said the clinic provides a full suite of care to women veterans, who make up the fastest growing veterans cohort in the VA system.

Moran said veterans have strong community support in Leavenworth.

“It’s a military town,” he said. “There’s a lot of veterans here.”

He said the staff at the Eisenhower VA Medical Center, veterans' organizations and the community are all interested in making sure good things happen in Leavenworth.

Moran also said the Department of Veterans Affairs has a larger presence in Leavenworth than just the hospital.

“This place is important to the entire Department of Veterans Affairs, and more important than that, it is important to all veterans across the country,” he said.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR