It was the latest in a series of departures of top administration officials, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster.
The VA change comes as Trump is trying to expand the Veterans Choice program, fulfilling a campaign promise that major veterans’ groups worry could be an unwanted step toward privatizing VA health care. His plan remains in limbo in Congress.
Having pushed through legislation in Trump’s first year making it easier to fire bad VA employees and speed disability appeals, Shulkin leaves behind a department in disarray. Several projects remain unfinished, including a multibillion-dollar overhaul of electronic medical records aimed at speeding up wait times for veterans seeking medical care as well as expanded mental health treatment for veterans at higher risk of suicide.
Trump selected Robert Wilkie, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, to serve as the acting head of the VA.