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 Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years 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.
Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriagei
X
May 21, 2015 4:14 AM
The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.
Video

Video Women to March for Peace Between Koreas

Prominent female activists from around the world plan to march through the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea to call for peace between the two neighbors, divided for more than 60 years. The event, taking place May 24, marks the International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament and has been approved by both Koreas. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan Following Record High Poppy Crops

Afghanistan has seen record high poppy crops during the last few years - and the result has been an alarming rise in illegal drug use and addiction in the war-torn country. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem has this report from Kabul.
Video

Video America’s Front Lawn Gets Overhaul

America’s front yard is getting a much-needed overhaul. Almost two kilometers of lawn stretch from the U.S. Capitol to the Washington Monument. But the expanse of grass known as the National Mall has taken a beating over the years. Now workers are in the middle of restoring the lush, green carpet that fronts some of Washington’s best-known sights. VOA’s Steve Baragona took a look.

VOA Blogs