“If anyone doctored forms, and/or gamed the system at the VA they ought to be investigated, prosecuted and punished,” remarked NY State Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington after jumping on a growing bipartisan bandwagon calling for criminal investigations into mismanagement by Veterans Administration personnel responsible for “manipulating appointments and doctoring waiting lists for veterans in need of medical care.”
Israel is among a growing number of Congressmen who have written to Attorney General Eric Holder to begin an investigation, as well as call for the resignation of VA head General Eric Shinseki in response to a report stating that more than 1,700 veterans at a Phoenix VA hospital were “kept on unofficial wait lists and, as a result, were in danger of being forgotten or lost.” Others include Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL).
In the meantime, Shinseki apologized for the scandal, but has refused to resign before he can meet with President Barack Obama to discuss a series of changes such as “removing any leader who tolerated deception in scheduling practices.”
“I apologize,” to Congress, the public and to the veterans. Leadership and integrity problems can and must be fixed, and now,” he stated. Shinseki also said he had been taken by surprise by the whole scandal and has asked Congress to pass legislation authored by Senate Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Bernard Sanders (I-VT). that would give him more authority to fire senior leaders and help him fill vacant VA positions quickly. It should also be noted that the Hill is looking into possible candidates to replace Shinseki, himself, at the same time acknowledging the task is not going to be an easy one.