Citing progress that the Department of Veterans Affairs is making toward improving patient care, VA Secretary David Shulkin today said the agency’s key priorities are to give veterans greater choices about where they can receive care, modernize the system, focus its resources more efficiently, improve the timeliness of the care veterans get and work to prevent suicides among veterans. Speaking before the AHA Annual Membership Meeting, Shulkin said that fewer than 120 veterans today wait more than 30 days to receive urgently needed care. The number stood at 57,000 in 2013. He also noted that President Trump recently signed legislation extending the Veterans Choice Program authorized by the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act until funds run out. The program extends services for veterans to go outside the VA medical system for care and allows them to visit local community hospitals, use telemedicine, and hire more doctors. Shulkin also noted the VA is the largest educator of health care professionals, training more than 120,000 every year. He said the VA has “no higher clinical priority” than to reduce the number of veteran suicides, which average 20 a day, a statistic he called a “national tragedy.”