Military Connection: Shinseki Resigns: By Debbie Gregory

By Debbie Gregory

 

Shinseki Resigns

On the morning of Friday May 30, 2014 Eric Shinseki resigned as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Shinseki met with President Obama prior to the announcement. During the 45 minute meeting with the president, Shinseki tendered his resignation, saying that he did not want his remaining in office to serve as a distraction to improving the VA healthcare system for Veterans.

The VA healthcare system has come under fire over the past several weeks, as accusations of wrongful deaths, long wait times for treatment and VA cover-ups have flooded the media. Over 100 lawmakers in the capitol called for Shinseki’s resignation, stating that Veterans deserve better. Many of these lawmakers also voted for a lower cost of living increase for retired Veterans.

In a press conference shortly after 11:00 am EDT, President Obama announced Shinseki’s resignation. The president said that it was with “considerable regret” that he accepted Shinseki’s resignation. He also said that despite all of the complaints and accusations against the VA, Shinseki is “a good man” who has done much to improve conditions for Veterans.

Under Shinseki’s five year tenure as  secretary of the VA, more than 2 million new Veterans enrolled in the VA healthcare system. Additionally, more than 1 million Veterans enrolled in college using the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the VA claims process moved to an online system, more claims have been made available to Vietnam Veterans exposed to Agent Orange, and the VA has made significant improvements with understanding, treating, and educating the public about PTSD and traumatic brain injuries.

When the news regarding misconduct in the Phoenix VA facility broke, Shinseki told the media that he would not resign, and that he believed the misconduct was an isolated incident. After results of his own investigation substantiated claims that misconduct was more widespread through-out the VA healthcare system, Shinseki apologized to Veterans, and took personal responsibility for the entire VA.

“I was too trusting of some,” Shinseki said at an earlier press conference. “I can’t explain the lack of integrity among some of the leaders of our healthcare facilities. This is something I have rarely encountered during 38 years in uniform.’’

“I will not defend it because it is indefensible. But I can take responsibility for it, and I do,” Shinseki said. “Given the facts I now know, I apologize as the senior leader of the Department of Veterans Affairs.’’

President Obama announced that Deputy VA Secretary Sloan Gibson will take over as acting Secretary until a permanent secretary is appointed. Gibson is a Veteran of the Army, where he was an Airborne and Ranger qualified Infantry officer. Gibson was the former President and CEO of the USO.

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Military Connection: Shinseki Resigns: By Debbie Gregory