Veterans

Growing Bipartisan Chorus Demands Resignation of V.A. Chief Shinseki

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As the scandal over extensive waiting periods and other botched services at Veterans Affairs (V.A.) hospitals continues to grow, V.A. Secretary Eric Shinseki is facing a bipartisan wave calling for his resignation or dismissal. Although the embattled V.A. head initially enjoyed the support of leading politicians on Capitol Hill, his list of allies is shrinking daily as new revelations about the V.A. scandal come to light. At this point, it appears Shinseki's career is not long for this world. The vultures are circling.

Here's what lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are saying about the fate of the V.A. chief.

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.): "The Inspector General's report is so troubling that I have come to the conclusion that the Department of Veterans Affairs needs new leadership. I believe it would be in the best interest of veterans for Secretary Shinseki to step down."

Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.): "Sec. Shinseki must step down."

Sen. John Walsh (D-Montana): "The Inspector General's report confirms the worst of the allegations against the VA and its failure to deliver timely care to veterans. It is time for President Obama to remove Secretary Shinseki from office."

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.): "It's time for Secretary Shinseki to step down." If he won't, McCain added, "then I call on the president of the United States to relieve him of his duties, fire him."

Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.): "For too long the VA has been steeped in complacency and mismanagement—that has to end today and the change must begin at the top…. Secretary Shinseki should resign immediately or President Obama should ask him to leave."

Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.): "Shinseki—in both word and deed—appears completely oblivious to the severity of the health care challenges facing the department."

Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee: "It would be best if General Shinseki stepped down as Secretary, both as an example for other V.A. leaders and to lay the groundwork for new leadership to meet with success."

Related from Reason TV: "Is Government Bureaucracy Failing Our Veterans?"

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  1. If he hangs around he’ll probably be reassigned and get a raise.

  2. I’m shocked, shocked I say that Stuart Smalley doesn’t think “he’s good enough, he’s smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like Secretary Shinseki!”

  3. Shinseki needs to step down, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Clearly, this is a long-standing problem within the VA (which, incidentally, has the worst reputation of any federal agency for persecuting whistleblowers). Shinseki is merely a temporary political appointee, in many respects just a figurehead. The entire top level of the permanent (civil service) management needs to be fired, and probably also some lower-level people who were directly involved in perpetrating or condoning these abuses. Also, the Inspector General needs to be truly independent and have some real power (including firing authority and the ability to bring criminal prosecutions).

  4. It’s worth pointing out that Shinseki also, more than a decade ago, courageously contradicted the Bush administration’s prediction that the invasion and occupation of Iraq could be done with a minimum of soldiers.

  5. Here’s a question for all the commenters:

    In 2002-2003, were you cheerleading the Bush administration on to war? Then General Shinseki was one of those, it is safe to say, who was urging caution, suggesting that an occupation would require a lot of soldiers–more than the Bush administration claimed were necessary.

    Perhaps Shinseki is simply doing the best anyone in his position can, given the massive influx of wounded veterans from a war that was ill-considered.

    Before dumping on Shinseki, each commenter should look in the mirror and ask if they are in part culpable for the suffering of veterans today.

    1. I’m not, so I’ll continue dumping on Shinseki. Funding increased 193% while the overall number of veterans decreased by over 4 million. The man is either incompetent or ineffective.

      1. Anyone who supported going to war in Iraq bears part of the blame for what has happened to these veterans. No amount of artful dodging will ever change this. The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in the stars, but in ourselves.

        So you don’t think that there has been an actual increase in the need for VA services as a result of the Iraq and Afghan wars? On what planet have you been living on?

        There has been a mass infusion of veterans suffering from both physical and psychological problems as the result of an unnecessary war.

      2. Do you really believe that the VA is not swamped with a massive wave of patients that need a lot of intensive care?

        Presumably, most of the veterans who died were World War II veterans whose needs were less than people who have just arrived from a combat zone.

        Perhaps Shinseki is incompetent; I don’t know. But to deny that the Iraq war forced a crisis on the VA is to deny reality. Can you find any representative of any veterans’ organization who seriously believes that the VA is facing an overwhelming challenge? Yes, Shinseki has his critics within the community of veterans, but all veterans will acknowledge that the VA is swamped with servicemen and women who need medical care urgently.

        1. Commenter|5.29.14 @ 8:47PM|#
          …”But to deny that the Iraq war forced a crisis on the VA is to deny reality.”

          Which is totally irrelevant except to apologists grasping for a excuse.

        2. Can you prove that lack of funding is the issue when the number of veterans decreased while funding skyrocketed? And I didn’t support the Iraq War, so you can drop that idiocy right now.

    2. Commenter|5.29.14 @ 5:32PM|#
      “Here’s a question for all the commenters:
      In 2002-2003, were you cheerleading the Bush administration on to war?”

      Not that I saw, so your tu quoque ain’t going anyplace.

  6. If you want something to fail then do your best to hire the worst!!

  7. General Shinseki How long has he been on the Job? They knew of these problems before 2010! I believe it will be earlier But The Left will claim they new about a week ago!! That’s the problem with America!! They Must know that what they say is not the truth! At least in the real world where most people know how long ago they stepped in a big pile of something we may not get off our shoes!
    Back to the General or at the VA! What directive did the President give to anyone in the
    VA If the answer is none as history will prove! But the left will say Republicans have had hundreds of hearings !! As if that Concerning means something the truth is the Left sends over email after email all blacked out! That sounds like something Hitler would do!! But then he would have killed you. Shoot I just remembered at least a few this Government can get away with it cus we got drones in the hands of the fools of Chaos!

  8. There are some agencies that should not be unionized Care of American Veterans for one but who would have ever thought there would be people in the American government that really do hate America!!

  9. Say, aren’t most of these Dems running in close races this year?

  10. To put it simply, the years since 2003 have seen a massive influx of new patients who have a large number of new, different problems–very different from the aging World War II veterans. These are mental problems, such as PTSD, frequent headaches, memory loss and other intellectual disabilities, missing limbs. Improvements in body armor and in emergency medical care by the U.S. armed forces mean that a lot of veterans who in previous conflicts who would have died on the battlefield or soon after now survive, but with serious mental and physical damage.

    These are different kinds of problems, and require different kinds of medical care, than does that of the World War II generation who are still alive. There is now a sudden jump in the need for people who can do psychological care for veterans suffering from intellectual disabilities, and there’s a sudden jump in the need for experts who can provide artificial limbs. Where do all these medical experts come from all of a sudden? That’s a big reason why the VA is having this problem.

    That is the crux of the problem. If were were to simply turn it over to the free market, the free market for medical care would suffer similar problems–a real shortage of experts for a new kind of veteran.

    Where is this money in the VA being wasted? Blanket cut-and-paste statements about government waste don’t count. Do you contend that VA doctors are overpaid?

  11. Maybe Shinseki is a bad administrator. I don’t know. I’m sure that some money in the VA is badly spent. But I also feel that anyone in that position–even if they had the administrative skills of Eisenhower–would be tearing their hair out in frustration.

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