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

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines 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.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid