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In Op-Ed, Shinseki Vows to Fix VA Problems

In Op-Ed, Shinseki Vows to Fix VA Problems

By Michael Cipriano - May 29, 2014

Embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki took to the pages of USA Today on Thursday in an apparent damage-control effort, vowing in an op-ed to take immediate action to fix problems at VA medical facilities. His remarks came in response to an internal report revealing long delays for appointments and manipulated scheduling records, practices that he called “reprehensible.”

The retired four-star general is facing pressure from both Democratic and Republican lawmakers to step down, which increased Wednesday after the inspector general report found that 1,700 patients at the VA hospital in Phoenix were waiting for an appointment but were not on the official waiting list, part of an apparent tactic to mask backlog problems. There are currently 42 VA medical facilities under investigation.

(Notably, House Speaker John Boehner declined to call for Shinseki’s resignation. The Hill reports that at a press conference, Boehner said he is withholding judgment: “The question I ask myself is: Is him resigning going to get us to the bottom of the problem? Is it going to help us find out what’s really going on? And the answer I keep getting is no.”)

“We, at the Department of Veterans Affairs, are redoubling our efforts, with commitment and compassion, to restore integrity to our processes to earn veterans' trust,” Shinseki wrote.

He added that he has directed the Veterans Health Administration to contact the 1,700 veterans waiting for appointments to provide them with the care they need.

President Obama has not decided whether he will fire the secretary, according to Politico. White House aides say the president does not know if Shinseki will be able to fix the problems at the agency, but the secretary himself seems to have no plans of stepping down voluntarily.

“After 38 years in the Army, I am honored and privileged to serve veterans as the secretary of Veterans Affairs, and I remain committed to providing the high-quality care and benefits that veterans have earned and deserve. And we will,” he promised in the op-ed.

Michael Cipriano

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