Murkowski: New Alaska VA Director Has the Tools for “Outside In” Progress in Alaska

Senator Looks Forward to Advancing “Care Closer to Home” Policies

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Lisa Murkowski today welcomed news that the Department of Veterans Affairs has named Susan Yeager to be the new Director of the VA Alaska Health Care System.  Yeager currently serves the VA as Alaska’s Rural Health Program Manager, and has been a hands-on advocate for improving rural care for Alaska’s veterans.  Murkowski was quick to note, though, that Yeager’s momentum in providing rural care must be continued and sustained to address Alaska’s veteran community in urban hubs.

“When Alaskans can get a federal official with intimate knowledge of our unique challenges and culture, everyone is better off and I look forward to working with Susan Yeager to continue the momentum we have built for Alaska’s veterans,” said Murkowski.  “But I ask Susan to create new success stories by getting out of the executive suite and working ‘outside in’: spending time with veterans at the Anchorage Clinic and community-based outpatient clinics around the state.”

In recent years, veterans reported that the Anchorage VA Center needs to improve patient communication and customer service.  So while there have been first-ever advancements for Alaskan vets living in remote areas, those living in cities struggled with an unresponsive bureaucracy.

Murkowski has long strived to reduce the mileage Alaska’s veterans must travel to get their needed treatment and benefits.  Thanks in part to her contributions and leadership, the number of Alaskans who must fly for care has dropped 38% -- and the VA formalized a partnership last May with the Alaska Native health clinics so rural veterans can seek care nearby instead of taking a plane to Fairbanks or Anchorage.