Lawmakers comment on Shinseki resignation - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Lawmakers comment on Shinseki resignation

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WASHINGTON (WVVA) - West Virginia lawmakers released the following comments on the resignation of Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki.

U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall: "I believe that Secretary Shinseki did the right thing in stepping down, as I called for him to do. By resigning he has removed himself from the focus of attention and opened the way for energies to shift to the most important issue at hand: fixing the flaws within the VA and ensuring that our veterans receive the quality care they are owed. The Administration must immediately get to the bottom of the scheduling problems and nominate someone for the top position now to implement change to serve our veterans."

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin: “Eric Shinseki is an honorable and courageous man who devoted his life to protecting our nation, its service members and veterans. His decision to resign as Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is the right one, though I regret that he had to do it.

“The past decade has seen a dramatic rise in new VA claims and beneficiaries as veterans return from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, new policies have been introduced to fast-track disability claims for a range of new service-connected illnesses, placing additional stress on the VA. However, that’s no excuse for failing to provide care to veterans.

“Consecutive presidents and congresses have sought to address the growth in claims by increasing the VA’s budget every year since 2001, and by nearly 70 percent since 2009. And while the VA has been provided with the funding it asked for, recent accounts demonstrate that it is failing to prioritize its resources.

“We know the VA has too few doctors, outdated computer systems and too much bureaucracy. These are superficial challenges that can—and must—be addressed. We must also fix their root causes: poor VA decision making at the national level about how to prioritize resources coupled with a culture that tolerates dishonest behavior.

“The VA must now devote itself entirely to reform. I have urged the Obama Administration to expedite its internal review of the VA, to embrace its findings, good or bad, and to act decisively to hold VA officials to account for their performance.

“We are obligated as a government to provide for the defense of the nation and for the care of our defenders. We know what the problems with the VA medical system are, and are learning new details every day. We must now act promptly and firmly to implement the solutions and to ensure that our veterans are provided with quality care.”

U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller: “I am deeply disappointed by the resignation of Eric Shinseki. Not once have I doubted his commitment to our veterans and his responsibility to them as head of the VA. Gen. Shinseki deserves enormous credit for his decades of service to our country, his work to cut waiting times at VA hospitals by 50 percent, and reduce the heartbreaking problem of homelessness among veterans by 25 percent.

“The issues with the VA are systemic and they’re something we’ve been attempting to deal with, especially as the agency faces mounting pressure to deal with injuries, including cases of traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder, never seen at these rates. But year after year, when Members of Congress have had the opportunity to provide legitimate funding increases for the VA, they’ve done just enough to skirt by. This is deplorable and anyone in Congress who thinks they’ve done enough for the VA is simply deluding themselves.

“Gen. Shinseki’s resignation is not going to be the solution to solving the problems with our VA. Congress needs to put billions more into this system and we must increase the hiring of physicians if we are going to meet the growing demand from veterans who rely on the VA to serve their growing health care needs after they’ve given so much for our country. It is my hope that Congress will see this crisis, not as someone else’s fault, but as an opportunity to take on the responsibility of truly providing for our veterans.”



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