Beset by growing evidence of patient delays and cover-ups, embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned from President Barack Obama’s Cabinet Friday, taking the blame for what he decried as a “lack of integrity” in the sprawling health care system for the nation’s military veterans.
Lawmakers representing the Mahoning Valley and Ohio don’t agree on much, but they said the president’s accepting the resignation was the right thing to do.
“Secretary Shinseki has had a long record of admirable service to our nation, but ultimately he had to take responsibility for the dismal shape of the VA health system,” said U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th.
Ryan added: “There must be accountability when taking care of our veterans. I believe this change in leadership is a crucial step towards righting the egregious incompetence and outright corruption that we have seen in recent years. This decision gives the VA health system the chance to begin rebuilding trust with the veterans of America and their families.”
U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson of Marietta, R-6th, said Shinseki served the nation with “great honor” as a general in the Vietnam War.
“But that doesn’t excuse Gen. Shinseki, or any of the VA staff, from the mistreatment of America’s heroes — our veterans,” he said.
“New leadership and a fresh set of eyes can often be helpful in solving problems like the ones plaguing the VA,” said U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican from the Cincinnati area. “That said, I think it’s important we remember that this is a systemic problem throughout the VA and that simply replacing the secretary, while necessary, is in no way sufficient to begin to eliminate the rot that has plagued veterans’ health care.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Cleveland Democrat, said Sloan Gibson, the acting VA secretary, “must take swift action to address problems uncovered by the [inspector general’s report. The VA must also continue ongoing efforts to eliminate the disability claims backlog and ensure that all veterans have timely access to the services they have earned.”
Read more about the continuing debacle and Shinseki's response in Saturday's Vindicator or on Vindy.com.