Top Georgia Leaders React to Shinseki's Resignation

May 30, 2014

Several members of Georgia’s Congressional delegation say embattled U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki’s decision to step down is the right move to help fix the ailing department.   Shinseki’s resignation comes after a growing scandal over long wait times at a number of VA hospitals, which sometimes resulted in death.

Georgia Democratic Congressman David Scott is pleased Shinseki is stepping down.  Scott has been calling for his resignation since last year, after Inspector General reports linked three veteran deaths at the Atlanta VA to mismanagement in the center’s mental health programs. Later another death was discovered. Scott says he respects Shinseki’s service but the problems happened under his watch.

U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki
Credit U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

“You’ve got to hold the man at the top accountable when something like this happens, and his resignation is not the solution of the problem. His resignation provides us with getting an obstacle out of the way of the problem.”

Scott recommends the President contract with private hospitals to aid with veterans care, restructure the entire department and hold those who caused the problems accountable.  Republican Senator Johnny Isakson is a member of the Senate Veteran Affairs Committee. Previously Isakson said he wanted to wait until the release of an audit on alleged problems at a VA hospital in Phoenix before deciding whether Shinseki should resign. But after the audit found inappropriate scheduling practices and long waits for care there, and as a result of earlier problems at the Atlanta VA and other VA hospitals, Isakson says it’s time for him to go. 

“The secretary did the right thing for the Veterans Administration and the right thing for himself, but his leaving doesn’t solve the problem. It opens the opportunity for new hands, new eyes and new leadership to get to the business of solving the problem.”

Isakson says the department needs leadership that focuses on accountability. Meanwhile, Army veteran Carl Beck who fought in World War II and the Korean war had this response to Shinseki’s resignation.

“I’m a little disappointed that he’s being torn up in the press, because I have long admired him as a fighter and as a leader.”

And Beck says he’s received first class treatment at the Atlanta VA. However, Congressman Scott says he’s heard problems still persist at the facility. But Senator Isakson says things have improved since the Atlanta VA changed leadership and he held a hearing in Atlanta last year with top VA officials. There’s no word on whether the Atlanta VA is among more than 40 facilities that remain under investigation after an audit discovered widespread problems with scheduling practices systemwide.