Bob McDonald had just been confirmed as secretary of Veterans Affairs when my foundation began sounding the alarm over the crisis facing millions of young spouses, mothers, dads and other loved ones caring for our wounded warriors. Even with the tremendous weight of that position newly on his shoulders, Bob did not hesitate to add our veterans caregivers to his list of top priorities. He immediately understood that America could not care for those who have borne the battle without also supporting the loved ones caring for them at home.

Bob’s commitment to veteran caregivers and families set a standard of excellence for every VA leader who has followed him. So much of the department’s willingness to embrace smart reforms and establish partnerships around our veterans’ loved ones comes from Bob’s leadership and vision. He was truly a trailblazer on veteran family and caregiver support, and in the course of our work together, Bob became a cherished friend.

I always admired Bob for his ability to lead one of the largest departments in the federal government without losing sight of the humanity behind its mission. He made it a priority to develop personal connections with veterans and their families, and he used those connections to hold himself accountable for making a positive difference in their lives. He was their biggest advocate and most devoted champion.

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