Two Georgia Democrats John Barrow and David Scott, both members of the House Representatives, called for resignation of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Eric K. Shinseki on Wednesday. Barrow and Scott are first Democrats to publicly come out against Shinseki.
“Secretary Shinseki is a decorated veteran who has served this country honorably, and I’ve personally met him on numerous occasions and found him to be devoted to caring for this nation’s heroes,” said Barrow in a statement. “Unfortunately, this Administration has fallen short in providing the kind of care that our veterans have earned. While I don’t think a change in leadership will immediately solve the serious problems that plague the VA, I do think it’s time to give someone else an opportunity to lead the agency and begin the rebuilding process to ensure these issues never happen again. Our nation’s veterans deserve the best we can give them, and too much time has passed since this issue was brought to light without anyone being held accountable. Secretary Shinseki deserves the utmost respect for his service, but it's time for someone new to get to the bottom of what's happened on his watch.”
This announcement came on a day when the news that 26 VA clinics across the country, including in Georgia, are currently under investigation for failure to provide proper care to country’s veterans. The issue of inadequate care, that sometimes ended in death of the patients, has been discussed in the media for the past several months and most Republican lawmakers already called for Shinseki’s resignation.
Scott asked for Shinseki’s resignation during House’s debate on H.R. 4031, a bill that gives the secretary of veteran affairs authority to dismiss or transfer VA’s high level officials based on their performance. Scott’s statement was very passionate and it underscored the importance of replacing the top VA leaders.
“I’m a proud co-sponsor of this bill to replace and be able to fire people, but the problem is the first person we need to fire is the secretary of veteran’s affairs Mr. Shinseki himself,” said Scott. “Now, we respect him, we respect his sacrifice for this country, and everything else, but the buck stops with at the top. Here are the facts: 5600 veterans are committing suicide every year, that’s almost 20 every day, under his watch in my own hospital in Atlanta four of our soldiers committed suicide in the hospital, and the very inspector general of the VA laid the blame directly at the foot of the VA administration for the lack of management.”
Barrow represents Georgia’s 12th congressional district, and Scott represents the 13th district.
Click here to watch Rep. Scott deliver his statement about Shinseki on the floor of the House of Representatives.