In 1st news conference as president-elect, Trump taps David Shulkin to head Veterans Affairs

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NEW YORK — President-elect Donald Trump has tapped David Shulkin to head the Department of Veterans Affairs, he announced during a news conference Wednesday.

David Shulkin, under Secretary of Health for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, leaves Trump Tower in New York City, New York on Jan. 9, 2017, days before being appointed to head the VA. (DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)

David Shulkin, under Secretary of Health for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, leaves Trump Tower in New York City, New York on Jan. 9, 2017, days before being appointed to head the VA. (DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)

Shulkin is the VA’s current undersecretary for health, a position in which he oversaw more than 1,700 health care sites across the United States.

Before joining the VA, Shulkin was president and CEO of the Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City and president of the Morristown Medical Center.

He was also the chief medical officer of the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

The announcement means Trump has chosen nominees for 20 of his 21 Cabinet posts — with the position of secretary of agriculture left to fill.

Veterans’ care advocates had said they’d seen clear signs of progress and had lobbied Trump to keep current VA Secretary Robert McDonald in the post.

Trump had pledged on the campaign trail to dramatically overhaul the VA. In elevating a current Obama administration appointee, it’s not clear whether those plans have changed.