On May 21, 2014, President Obama held a press conference, addressing the nation in regards to the accusations of misconduct within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare system. This was the first occasion where the president addressed the accusations against the VA directly with the press.
The president said that he had met with VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors, and discussed issues of allegations of misconduct at VA healthcare system, and improving healthcare for our nation’s Veterans and their families.
The president referred to Veterans and their families as the best that our country has to offer. The president said that these men and women have done their duty and ask for nothing more than what was promised. That being that we uphold our sacred trust to care for those who have served in the military.
The president said that in in his discussion with Secretary Shinseki, he was clear that anyone in the VA found guilty of misconduct will be held accountable, and that there are already VA personnel who have been put on administrative leave due to the initial investigations into the VA healthcare system.
Many Americans, especially Veterans, who have been watching the drama with the VA healthcare system accusations play-out, want quick and definitive action. But the president asked that the American people allow for a full investigation to take place so that the real root of any problems in the VA healthcare system can be found and permanently corrected.
President Obama said that he ordered Secretary Shinseki to conduct an investigation into the accusations of nation-wide misconduct, so that the president could be made aware of the “full scope” of the problem. According to President Obama, Secretary Shinseki is scheduled to update the president with his preliminary results next week. The president said that he also directed Mr. Nabors to conduct a broader investigation of the Veterans Health Administration, the component of the VA that delivers healthcare to Veterans. He said that he wants to know what is working and what is not working in order to improve Veteran care.
The president noted that Veterans shouldn’t become a “political football,” and that caring for Veterans should be an issue where Democrats and Republicans work together. The president again urged the nation to wait for all of the facts to be collected, amid all of the accusations.
The president also said that he believes that there are many employees throughout the VA that are hard-working individuals who truly do a great job for Veterans. He hopes that if any of the allegations are true, the people responsible will be punished for their misconduct.
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Military Connection: Obama Speaks About VA: By Debbie Gregory