VA Secretary Eric Shinseki
In the midst of growing outcry over reported failings in the VA system, especially the prevalence of wait lists for veterans needing medical care, today VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned.
Shinseki headed the VA, which operates the nation’s largest integrated health care system, with more than 1,700 hospitals, clinics, community living centers, domiciliaries, readjustment counseling centers, and other facilities. Stories have been emerging of veterans waiting fo months, some since 2012 for appointments, with some of those waits resulting in death.
New Mexico Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich were among the growing number of lawmakers in Washington, D.C. calling for Shinseki to step down.
The retired U.S. Army general was nominated Dec. 7, 2008 by President Barack Obama to serve as Secretary of Veterans Affairs. His nomination was confirmed by the Senate Jan. 20, 2009, and he was sworn in as the seventh Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jan. 21, 2009.
Secretary Shinseki served as Chief of Staff, United States Army, from 1999 to June 11, 2003, and retired from active duty Aug. 1, 2003. During his tenure, he initiated the Army Transformation Campaign to address both the emerging strategic challenges of the early 21st century and the need for cultural and technological change in the United States Army.
Following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, he led the Army during Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom and integrated the pursuit of the Global War on Terrorism with Army Transformation, successfully enabling the Army to continue to transform while at war.
Shinseki said today that he was too trusting of some, and accepted as accurate the reports that he now knows to have been misleading with regard to patient wait times. He went on to say that he cannot explain the lack of integrity among some of the leaders of VA health care facilities, adding that it is something he had rarely encountered during his 38 years in uniform.