Tester Statement on Kathy Berger Being Named Permanent Director of VA Montana

Senator Jon Tester today released the following statement after the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) named Kathy Berger permanent director of VA Montana:

“I have met with Kathy, and I believe she has the tools necessary to meet the responsibility of taking care of our veterans. Kathy has a lot of work ahead of her, and I will continue to work with her and the staff at VA Montana to ensure the folks who served this nation are able to access the care they have earned.”

Leadership vacancies across the VA have served as a major barrier to care for veterans across the country. These vacancies are often due to an increasing pay disparity between the VA and private sector pay scales.

Tester is currently sponsoring the Veterans First Act, which includes two provisions he authored to specifically fill leadership vacancies at the VA.

  • The first provision will establish a defined appointment and compensation system for State VA Directors that will help recruit experienced medical directors like Berger to VA leadership positions.
  • The second provision will require an assessment of the VA’s leadership succession plan to address management vacancies like VA Montana’s, and increase the timely appointment of a permanent director.

Berger has been serving as the interim director of VA Montana since June. Berger began her career with the VA as an RN and has held numerous leadership positions within the VA, including most recently as the director of the Sheridan VA Health Care System in Wyoming.