Florida Congressmen Holding Off For Now on Demanding Eric Shinseki Leave VA
Around the State
This week, Daniel Dellinger, the commander of the American Legion, called for the resignation of U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, prompting responses of two senior congressmen from Florida on the House Veterans Affairs Committee.
Pointing to problems in the VA Department, including a well-publicized case in Phoenix where 40 veterans died waiting for care while the VA hospital altered lists to hide the long waiting time, Dellinger noted Shinseki was not removing officials.
U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, stopped short of calling for Shinseki’s resignation but insisted there was a “crisis of confidence with VA’s top leadership” and President Barack Obama should quickly take action. Miller said he would wait until the VA inspector general releases a report before deciding on whether Shinseki should go.
“Make no mistake,” Miller said this week. “There is a crisis of confidence with VA’s top leadership, and the American Legion’s calls for the resignations of the department’s top leaders should be sending shock waves through the White House. I have the utmost respect for Commander Dellinger’s opinion, and while I am going to wait until VA’s inspector general releases its report on the situation in Phoenix before deciding to call for any personnel changes, this much is clear: for nearly a year, we have been pleading with top department leaders and President Obama to take immediate steps to stop the growing pattern of preventable veteran deaths and hold accountable any and all VA employees who have allowed patients to slip through the cracks. In response, we’ve received disturbing silence from the White House and one excuse after another from VA.
“Right now, President Obama and Sec. Shinseki are faced with a stark choice: take immediate action to help us end the culture of complacency that is engulfing the Veterans Health Administration and compromising patient safety, or explain to the American people and America’s veterans why we should tolerate the status quo,” Miller added.
But Democrats continue to support Shinseki, including a First Coast Democrat on the House Veterans Affairs Committee.
U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., said Shinseki’s efforts to review the VA Department were a step in the right direction.
“As a senior member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, I support Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki’s announcement that the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) will complete a nationwide access review,” Brown said on Thursday. “As stated, the purpose of this review is to ensure a full understanding of VA’s policy and continued integrity in managing patient access to care. As part of the review during the next several weeks, a national face-to-face audit will be conducted at all clinics for every VA medical center.
“The VA provides quality, timely health care to our veterans,” Brown added. “We have a duty to make sure that all those who have defended this country when called upon receive the care they have earned through their service. I support the secretary in his nationwide access review and look forward to hearing his report when it is finished.”
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.