On Friday, November 16, U.S. Secretary for Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie visited Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM)–Carolinas for roundtable discussions with VCOM students and faculty. Sworn in as Secretary on July 23, 2018, Wilkie is the tenth to hold the position, and had previously served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs (2006-2009) and Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness (2017-2018).
After a tour of VCOM–Carolinas’ state-of-the-art facilities, Mr. Wilkie, accompanied by his wife Julia Wilkie and a team of aids and advisors, listened to a research presentation by Gunnar Brolinson, DO, VCOM’s Vice Provost for Research, and Skip Garner, PhD, Associate Vice-Provost for Research Development. Drs. Brolinson and Garner shed light on some of the many innovative avenues of research currently explored at VCOM, including sports medicine and Department of Defense (DOD) research into prevention and rapid diagnosis of concussions as well as research involving wearable performance monitors which could improve care of injured soldiers on the battlefield.
Mr. Wilkie joined VCOM students for a round table Q&A session, outlining his plan to overhaul the Department of Veterans Affairs during his tenure as Secretary. Students present were beneficiaries of the military’s Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP), which offers students paid medical education in exchange for military service. The Secretary assured students that as a veteran, he would keep their current and future healthcare interests in mind as he steers the agency, which employs 377,805 people and serves over nine million veterans each year.