Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned today amidst the scandal that exposed widespread failings in the healthcare system for military veterans.
President Barack Obama said he accepted Shinseki’s resignation after Shinseki delivered an interim review that found systemic mismanagement, treatment delays, and falsified records through the Veterans Health Administration, according to Bloomberg News.
“This morning I think some of you also heard Ric take a truly remarkable action,” Obama said in a statement. “In public remarks, he took responsibility for the conduct of those facilities and apologized to his fellow veterans and to the American people. And a few minutes ago, Secretary Shinseki offered me his own resignation. With considerable regret, I accept it.”
In his statement, President Obama took time to laud Shinseki’s military service, which includes two tours in Vietnam, commander of the 1st Cavalry Division, and position as Army chief of staff. He also noted Shinseki’s accomplishments as Veterans Affairs Secretary, saying “his commitment to our veterans is unquestioned.”
“He has worked hard to investigate and identify the problems with access to care, but as he told me this morning, the VA needs new leadership to address them,” Obama continued. “He does not want to be a distraction, because his priority is to fix the problem and make sure our vets are getting the care that they need.”
Shinseki’s resignation occurs during an ever-growing furor surrounding failings in the Veterans Health Administration. The revelations that veterans were subject to extraordinarily long treatment delays and that records were falsified to keep those delays hidden has caused public officials on both sides of the political divide to express their dismay and anger.
Working with investigators at the VA’s inspector general’s office, the Justice Department is reviewing materials to see if any crimes were committed, according to a federal law enforcement official familiar with the probe.
The investigation is still in its preliminary stages and focuses on whether VA officials made false statements to their superiors or others to cover-up problems related to the care of military veterans.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell released a statement, saying, “The denial of care to our veterans is a national disgrace, and it’s fitting that the person who oversees the Department of Veterans Affairs has accepted responsibility for this growing scandal and resigned.”
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