Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.

Donate

Nolan: Veterans Affairs Secretary Shinseki should resign

Rep. Rick Nolan
Rep. Rick Nolan

WASHINGTON — Embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki should resign his post in light of a growing scandal over VA clinic wait times, Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan said Friday.

Nolan is the first Democrat from Minnesota — and one of only a few Democrats in Congress — to say Shinseki should resign.

“It’s the right thing to do in light of the systemic, chronic and shameful mismanagement of the care of our nation’s heroes,” Nolan said in a statement. “These issues did not begin with Secretary Shinseki, but he’s had six years to fix the problems that plague this agency, and it’s highly unlikely that any more time will make a difference. The VA requires a new leadership team with a fresh perspective and a total commitment to our veterans and their families.”

Nolan also said House Speaker John Boehner should establish a select committee to investigate the revelations of overly long, and often hidden, wait times for veterans at VA clinics around the United States. Earlier, Nolan announced he will hold a series of veterans roundtables in the 8th District to talk about VA care. 

Rep. Tim Walz said this week it doesn’t appear Minnesota’s VA clinics are plagued by secret wait lists. He said President Obama should have acted more swiftly to address the scandal, but stopped short of calling for Shinseki to resign. 

A handful of prominent Democratic candidates around the country have said Shinseki should lose his job, but very few sitting Democrats in Congress have done so — only Georgia Reps. David Scott and John Barrow and West Virginia Rep. Nick Rahall, according to a list compiled by Military Times reporter Leo Shane.

President Obama said Shinseki’s job is safe for now, and while many Republicans have said he should go, Boehner himself has not.

Devin Henry can be reached at dhenry@minnpost.com

You can also learn about all our free newsletter options.

Comments (8)

  1. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 05/23/2014 - 03:51 pm.

    Obama’s shields

    Obama has had this strategy of keeping incompetent agency heads in place until a scandal dies down so they are the targets of slings and arrows instead of Obama himself.

    He did that with Mrs. Clinton, who had to testify before congress and try to explain away why the military was told to stand down and not rescue the Americans at Benghazi. He did that with Kathleen Sebelius when the Obamacare rollout was such a disaster, and now he’s doing it with Shinseki to take the heat for an agency Obama promised to fix since he ran on its systemic disfunction in 2008.

    As long as everyone’s debating whether or not his incompetent subordinates should go, Obama escapes the press scrutiny and attention he deserves for HIS incompetence.

    • Submitted by Tom Lynch on 05/24/2014 - 12:07 am.

      The GOP way:

      Start wars that produce lots of hard-to-assess brain injuries. Filibuster VA funding. Express outrage over backlogs. Blame the administration that has done more for Vets than any in a long time.

      • Submitted by Richard Patten on 05/24/2014 - 12:03 pm.

        Lynch correct:

        Bush started Iraq war OFF-BUDGET, meaning no VA funds to cover VA load. Republicans stopped extra VA funding. Some extra VA funds during Obama admin. inadequate to cover load. War injuries, including brain trauma, ptsd and (finally) huge load once agent orange damage admitted, require more lengthy treatment than typical VA load. Consequence: understaffed, with outdated technology, some overloaded VA hospitals, pressured to reduce backlog, tried to save face by putting some applications on a second list. I don’t hear that the second list created any more delay, or caused any more waiting applicant deaths, than would have occurred anyway. Get to the real problem, identify the real culprits-Republican refusal to adequately fund the VA system, ask for their resignation-and, Nolan, don’t try to make us think that you are helping to solve the problem by firing another wounded vet., Shinsecki.

  2. Submitted by wayne marquardt on 05/24/2014 - 09:15 am.

    Wait times for Vets

    No doubt Walz has not had to wait three months for a simple eye exam or a whole year for an MRI.

    • Submitted by Tom Lynch on 05/24/2014 - 05:24 pm.

      Bull

      Wait times for the VA are very comparable to the private sector. If not shorter. At much less cost. Even vets that use the VA in Phoenix, where deaths were supposedly covered up, say they don’t believe it. They have praise for their care. Many feel something isn’t right about this “scandal”. Forty deaths? Covered up??

      The “scandal” will turn out to be Righties starting unneeded wars, creating huge numbers of injured and disabled vets, filibustering needed funding increases for the VA, and then trying to blame the Obama administration for it. Or that should be the scandal if our “liberal media” did its job.

  3. Submitted by mark wallek on 05/24/2014 - 06:56 pm.

    Haying season

    If memory serves, the issue with vets getting the care PROMISED by EVERY politician over all the decades of my life, has been ongoing and persistent. I see this as a problem with commitment to more than lip flapping. Truth be told, the 600 plus billion budget for defense says it all. What percentage will be going to our promise to the vet? Not sure, but certainly tiny in comparison to what the defense contractors are going to get. Never do I remember the promise of “what you need when you need it” being kept in exchange for what these service people have sacrificed and endured. I do remember many heads lip flapping the issue for political gain, wanting us to believe the chaff is the grain.

  4. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 05/27/2014 - 06:53 am.

    this is nothing new

    I became a vet in 1970. Never have I wanted to or trusted enough in the VA to get treatment there. The docs and dentists in the service barely knew what they were doing and the VA just seemed like a giant, uncaring beauracracy.

    I would have only gone there for service related problems that my normal insurance wouldn’t have covered and even then not expected much. When my friend was dying of brain cancer due to agent orange exposure the VA would do nothing until Senator Wellstone came to his rescue and a local TV station did a feature on him. Suddenly the VA acknowledged the rightness of his claim.

    In a world where most people have health insurance through work why would you go to the VA for an eye exam unless you were disabled and forced to go there? In spite of Tester’s attempt to blame the current Democratic administration I think the problem is that veteran’s affairs have been chronically underfunded for decades. I think both parties are to blame but I’d put more burden on the Republicans who are happy to overfund weapon systems but always looking for things to cut like VA medical care and those veterans’ homes that sound like broken down nightmares.

    Everybody’s got lip service for vets now, unlike how Viet Nam vets were treated, but no one would back up their lip service if it meant raising their taxes a couple dollars. You can change the crew of a sinking ship but that still leaves you with a sinking ship.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 05/27/2014 - 07:54 am.

      The answer is to skuttle the ship

      Shut down the government-run bureaucracy known as the VA, take all those billions and put them into a medical expense account in DOD, then give each eligible vet a medical ID card that can be shown at any civilian doctor, hospital, dentist, clinic, etc., billable to the DOD.

      The recent scandal involving wait times, unburied corpses, people dying waiting for treatment, etc., are because veterans are required to go to specific facilities in their area. Some people drive hundreds of miles to get treatment.

      Rather than treating us vets as second-class citizens, why not allow us the freedom to choose the medical service that is best and most convenient for us for a change.

Leave a Reply