Central New York’s two congressmen have joined in the calls for the head of the Department of Veterans Affairs to resign.
Pressure on VA Secretary Eric Shinseki is growing over long wait times for patients at VA hospitals. Rep. Dan Maffei (D-Syracuse) and Rep. Richard Hanna (R-Barneveld) have both called for Shinseki to step down as the secretary of Veterans Affairs.
They're part of a growing list of congressmen to do so.
"I think it will be very clear, probably by the end of the week, that the secretary lacks the credibility not only at the VA and with veterans, but also on Capitol Hill," Maffei said.
The latest black eye to the VA medical system, which provides health care to veterans, is over hospitals falsifying documents. The Phoenix health center made it appear patients were not waiting nearly as long as they actually were to see a doctor.
An internal inspector's report released Wednesday confirmed allegations that came out in the media several weeks ago.
"There seems to be a systematic problem at the VA in serving our veterans in a timing matter and that is of huge concern to me," Maffei said Thursday.
In a statement, Hanna called the failure of leadership "appalling" and "unacceptable."
Maffei says he has confidence in the leadership at the VA hospital in Syracuse. He says the VA needs a new leader with experience in rooting out a systematic crisis.
Rep. Hanna's full statement:
As a nation, we should be extremely grateful to General Shinseki for his selfless service in uniform to the United States of America. He is a decorated Vietnam War veteran who was awarded the Purple Heart and other honors for his valor. Every American owes him a great deal of respect. Nonetheless, a failure of leadership and accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs has hurt our veterans in appalling ways. It is unacceptable. Our nation and its heroes would be best served by new leadership at the top of the VA. Clearly this problem goes beyond personnel, and I will continue to support aggressive legislative reforms and oversight to ensure that the VA has all the resources necessary to give our veterans the care they have so dearly earned.
Rep. Maffei's full statement:
Secretary Shinseki is a decorated Vietnam War veteran who served his nation in uniform for thirty years and has been deeply committed to our veterans. However, in light of today’s report revealing the systemic mismanagement, falsified data, and ultimately the deaths of veterans who were waiting for health care, it is no longer possible for Secretary Shinseki to lead the VA out of this crisis. Therefore, Secretary Shinseki should step down from his post and the President should appoint new leadership at the VA. We must be focused on what is best for our veterans and fix these problems as soon as possible. I have sent a letter asking for President Obama’s personal engagement in this issue to assure that those who are responsible will be held accountable and that we pursue a path to true reform that leaves no veteran behind.