West Virginia’s congressional delegation is speaking out about whether U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki should stay or be removed from his job given the recent controversy over VA medical centers.
U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller said Friday Shinseki should stay on the job while U.S. House members Rep.Nick Rahall and Rep. Shelley Moore Capito said he should step down.
“I remain fully confident that Secretary Shinseki is the right person to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs. Under his leadership, the VA health care system has made tremendous progress – the backlog of pending claims has been halved, and millions of veterans continue to receive top quality care annually. And as a veteran himself who has made it his life’s work to defend our nation and care for our veterans, I know Secretary Shinseki is focused on improving the VA and will take swift action to address any instances of misconduct determined by the Inspector General.
“We must also recognize that the VA is facing major challenges because Congress has made the choice to underfund this agency, even as thousands of our troops continue to return home from Iraq and Afghanistan. We will never address the root of the problem, nor will we give the VA an opportunity to meet its obligations to our veterans, unless Congress makes the right decision to provide the VA with the resources it needs to provide health care for our veterans.”
“Secretary Shinseki has served with dignity and honor and his sacrifice has been great. And, like vast numbers of our veterans, he continued to elect to serve our nation beyond his military career. We owe him a tremendous debt. But we also owe our veterans a system in which they can put their trust. The challenges at the VA run much further than one person and replacing the Secretary will not solve them. However, I believe that by stepping aside, Secretary Shinseki will help to restore the trust our veterans must have in the VA and will demonstrate a commitment by this Administration to address the system’s serious shortcomings.”
“It has become exceedingly clear that the top leadership at the Department of Veterans Affairs is incapable of managing this troubled agency and ensuring that our veterans are receiving the services they desperately need. West Virginia’s veterans deserve to know that the Department of Veterans Affairs will be there for them, and increasing evidence shows that the VA is failing them. I call on Secretary Eric Shinseki to acknowledge the agency’s failings and step aside. In order for the VA to regain the trust of our veterans, it must show that accountability applies to everyone, starting with the secretary.”