Louisiana Leaders React To Eric Shinseki’s Resignation
Earlier today, embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned. The announcement was made by President Obama, who praised the retired Army general after members of the U.S. Congress have been calling for Shinseki’s resgination for weeks.
At the center of Shinseki’s resignation is accusations that records were falsified at VA health clinics to hide systemic scheduling problems across the U.S., which may have contributed to the deaths of up to 40 veterans.
“Better late than never best describes this news,” says U.S. Congressman Charles Boustany of Lafayette. “After months of ignoring our entire Louisiana delegation’s questions about veterans’ access problems in our state, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki finally resigned. I’ve fought for Secretary Shinseki to come and see the plight our local veterans in South Louisiana face for basic healthcare treatments. All I received in return was stonewalling and a lack of responsiveness and care from the VA. New leadership must be installed at the VA. The VA’s focus must return to providing veterans with care. Resolving this problem must be a priority for President Obama and Senate Committee Chairmen blocking House passed legislation.”
“It’s clear Secretary Shinseki needed to be held accountable,” says current U.S. Congressman Bill Cassidy, who’s running against Mary Landrieu for one of Louisiana’s U.S. Senate seats this fall. “Since the President said in 2008 that reforming the VA was a priority, he should be held accountable too. We must work towards patient-centered reforms in the VA. Healthcare decisions should be made to serve veterans, not bureaucrats.”
“Secretary Shinseki is an honorable veteran, but he’s been a horrible VA secretary,” says U.S. Senator David Vitter. “He clearly hasn’t been leading on these problems. However, Shinseki’s resignation doesn’t solve anything. It’s an important first step, but I’ll be making sure that new leadership will take charge and stop this crisis – starting with the need to pass legislation to build these long overdue clinics.”
President Obama also announced Deputy VA Secretary Sloan Gibson will now lead the department until a new secretary is nominated and confirmed. Vitter points out he met with Gibson, who was then nominated to be the Undersecretary, on November 20, 2013 to push for his legislation to authorize the 27 VA outpatient clinics around the country including in Lafayette and Lake Charles.