(This post has been updated.)
Trying to reach the head of the Department of Veterans Affairs? No problem. In the Loop is a full-service organization.
New Secretary Robert McDonald’s cellphone number is: (513) 509-8454. And, whatever, you do, call him Bob. Not Robert, not Bobby. Just Bob.
We asked him for the number at a press conference Monday, and, with cameras rolling, he gave it out to the 30 media folks. Unusual if not unprecedented in a town where government PR employees vet all calls and requests for interviews, often through a slow-moving process that can take weeks– if they are ever returned at all.
“Call me Bob,” he said, drawing a pyramid on the back of a placard which stated his reform plan and put veterans at the top and himself at the bottom. “I’m Bob. We want an organization where everyone is called by the first name.”
At his first press conference since touring Va facilities across the country, the former CEO of Procter & Gamble recalled several times when he handed out his cellphone number to Senate and House committee members. He also gave it to a veteran he’d met on a plane who said his daughter, also a veteran and a medical student, had declared that she would not work at the VA because of its current problems.
“I got her number and called her three times, and I think we are on the way to visiting her school,” McDonald said. “And I gave her mine.”
We tried the number, but got sent to voice mail. Well, just keep trying.
But Brett Mills, President of CareNet, Inc. in Anchorage, Alaska, wrote Wax-Thibodeaux, shortly after her post Monday afternoon on the In The Loop blog to thank her for giving out McDonald’s cell.
“We used to subcontract homecare services for veterans for the VA,” he wrote, but “we stopped last year because the VA doesn’t like to pay its bills.”
Mills said he’s tried to reach “Bob” before as well as his predecessors with no results. “We have been chasing this debt around since spring of 2012. No accountability.”
“Well, ‘Bob’ answered his phone!” he wrote, and heard a “brief summary of our problem with the VA, and seemed to listen. I am sending him information regarding our situation. Thank you for an outstanding and helpful piece.”
Like we said, full service.