News / USA

Obama Accepts VA Chief's Resignation

US Veteran Affairs Secretary Steps Down Amid Growing Scandali
X
Jeff Seldin
May 31, 2014 12:51 AM
U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki stepped down Friday morning. Calls for his ouster had been growing, following revelations that about 1,700 veterans were denied medical care and kept off official waiting lists. Still, VOA's Jeff Seldin reports from the Pentagon that the furor has not eroded respect for the former four-star general.

Watch related video report by VOA's Jeff Seldin

Luis Ramirez
Former Army Gen. Eric Shinseki, head of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, has resigned, saying he did "not want to be a distraction" after a government investigation confirmed widespread shortcomings in the health care the nation provides its military veterans.
 
President Barack Obama pauses while making a statement in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, May 30, 2014, following his meeting with Veterans Affairs Secretary Shinseki.President Barack Obama pauses while making a statement in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, May 30, 2014, following his meeting with Veterans Affairs Secretary Shinseki.
x
President Barack Obama pauses while making a statement in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, May 30, 2014, following his meeting with Veterans Affairs Secretary Shinseki.
President Barack Obama pauses while making a statement in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, May 30, 2014, following his meeting with Veterans Affairs Secretary Shinseki.
President Barack Obama announced the resignation in a White House address Friday morning, saying he accepted it "with considerable regret."

He has appointed Sloan Gibson, Shinseki's deputy, to be the interim leader for the VA, which provides care to roughly 6.5 million veterans a year. Gibson came onboard at the VA in February after leading the United Services Organization. Better known as the USO, the private nonprofit organization supports troops and their families with programs, services and entertainment.

Shinseki had been under pressure to resign following revelations of lengthy waits for appointments and of a coverup in scheduling delays. According to an internal audit, wait times averaged 115 days at one hospital.

Critics say the practice endangered the lives of thousands of veterans, including those returning from recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Shinseki apologized for the scheduling abuses Friday, saying "we now know that VA has a systemic, totally unacceptable lack of integrity within some of our veterans' health facilities." Taking responsibility for the situation, he said he originally had thought the problems were isolated.
 

Obama did not say whether the Justice Department will pursue criminal charges.

Shinseki already had announced several changes, including the removal of leaders at the VA center in Phoenix, Arizona, where the scandal first came to light. He also suspended bonuses for some senior officials.

More changes are likely, Obama said, saying the VA's information system probably would need to be upgraded. The president also said he would expect "changes in the culture within the VA." 

Until last week, Obama had said he had confidence in the ability of Shinseki - a decorated war hero and retired four-star general who himself had been wounded in battle - to lead the agency. The president waited until getting audit reports and hearing from Shinseki personally before deciding whether he should go.

In his announcement, Obama praised Shinseki's service, saying he had championed veterans' care, especially in areas including traumatic brain injury, Agent Orange and women's specialized treatment. Shinseki also cut veteran homelessness by 24 percent, Obama said.

A spokesman for the advocacy group Disabled American Veterans also lauded Shinseki, himself a wounded vet, as "an honorable man."

Sgt. Joe Violante, the group's legislative director, said the organization did not call for his resignation because "we had confidence in his ability to turn things around." The group will support Shinseki's successor, he added.

Violante made his comments Friday morning in an interview with CNN, whose investigations helped bring the VA's problems to light.

Members of Obama's own Democratic Party had joined calls by his Republican adversaries to fire Shinseki. But Republican House speaker John Boehner said politics was not a factor.

“I think there's broad bipartisan concern about what's happening at the VA and the treatment that's being denied to our veterans," Boehner said Friday. "These people put their lives on the line for our country and they deserve better, much better, than they're getting today.”

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid