VA secretary says he will not resign over claims of delayed care

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Secretary of Veteran Affairs Eric Shinseki (Image Credit: CBS News)

(CBS News) – The secretary of veteran affairs is defending his record and his job.

Eric Shinseki is under fire – and there are calls for him to resign – amid claims that 40 patients died at the VA Administration Hospital in Phoenix because of delays in their care.

Debbie Allen believes her husband, Mel, a Vietnam veteran, died of bladder cancer after the VA delayed his tests and diagnosis for six months.He’d been a patient at the VA Hospital in Phoenix.

“It’s sad,” she said. “It’s disgusting. It’s a betrayal to somebody who was willing to serve his country. And then when Mel needed the VA and needed his country to help him in his time of need, they turned their back on him.”

The secretary told us that when first he heard the charges in Phoenix he sent inspectors immediately.

“I take every one of these incidents and allegations seriously, and we’re going to go and investigate. The most serious of these were in Phoenix,” he said.

But the Phoenix investigation is not the only one. At least five other VA hospitals have been accused of mismanagement and preventable deaths and at two of those – Pittsburgh and Atlanta – VA officials in charge got large bonus checks just after the deaths were revealed.

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  • Paul

    I know Sec. Shinseki To be a man of Integrity and great compassion that was injured in Vietnam himself. He will not waiver in his fight to revamp the V.A. I shudder to think how the system would have been with out his leadership to date.

  • Skillpot

    Lets face it, Shinseki did not create the problem, but he can take action to remedy it! The problem with, and in VA has been going on for over 100-years. The Congress can change it by closing ALL VA hospitals! I have been able to use VA for over 60-years, but haveNEVER, because of their reputation. Right now, I am experiencing a problem with DAV NSO to help me with my claim for compensation with VA!

  • Lance Classen

    Paraphrased from my friend, Danny S., whom I agree with and could not have stated it better.
    Shinseki has done more good for the VA in the last decade than the 30 years prior to him. He was the first to make a HUGE push to take care of Vietnam vets and fast track claims. He has done a ton for Gulf War and Iraq/Afgan vets. The American Legion has never got along with the VA. While the legion represents vets, they have little to no accountability for false claims. Think of them like a disfunctional union. The VA can only do so much and to blame the VA on suicides is ridiculous. As for misstreatment in facilities, I am not buying all of it. My hat is off to all that work in the VA. Shinseki should not go down like this.

    • D C

      Agreed, now that the situation has been revealed, I think Shinseki should be evaluated on how he handles the problem. But, he is now mired in “calls for resignation” when he should be using that time dealing with this.
      He should have known what road lied ahead when he took the job. For years, people have seen what Skillpot has seen in his previous post. And, my VFW Service Officer confirms much of Lance’s post.
      I believe Sec. Shinseki is making things better, but is getting bit in the butt from years of bad reputation. Let him do his job without the Congress men and women trying to make good PR on page 1. If they were so concerned, they would have been making such demands years ago.

  • Kate

    I worked in a large VA medical center. Most of the time it would be at least a six-month wait for a patient to be seen. It’s not right, but there is such a high demand for care and not enough practitioners or time in the day to maintain a reasonable wait time.

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