Thursday, Jul 24, 2014
Local Reaction to Shinseki's Resignation
WSIL -- Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki is stepping down after an investigation uncovered lengthy delays in patient care at VA hospitals. Local lawmakers and veterans are responding to his resignation.
Shinseki had a lot of support when he took over the VA in 2009. However, some veterans groups, like the American Legion, publicly called for him to step down because of the recent scandal.
"This is a national problem," said local veteran Bill Slider. "It's a crisis."
Bill Slider served in the Army for 28 years and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel. He's now the Public Affairs Officer for the Haven in Carterville.
"Really a place for recuperating veterans to go and just relax," said Slider.
Slider has had his own experiences with the VA Healthcare System. He's dealt with some great doctors. At other times, he's faced lengthy problems.
"A parachute jump injury I had for my back, it took me seven years to get rated 100 percent," said Slider.
When the latest scandal about secret wait lists came to light, Slider felt like VA Secretary Eric Shinseki needed to take responsibility.
"That's part of what you sign up to do when you take a command position," said Slider. "It's okay, you're the guy."
He respects Shinseki's decision to step down. He also hopes a change in leadership will get the VA moving in the right direction.
"We need somebody there that can focus a 100 percent on trying to clean this situation up," said Slider.
Lawmakers, like Representative Bill Enyart, aren't surprised by the move. However, the congressman doesn't think one person's resignation will fix the issues.
"These systemic problems date back as far as 2005, and I know in instances before that," said Enyart.
Enyart believes the employees behind the wait lists were defrauding the government to get a bonus, and they need to be held accountable.
"Grab hold of this culture that has tolerated these kinds of cover-ups and end that," said Enyart.
Enyart feels the pay structure for VA administrators needs to be re-examined. He also wants the VA system to better communicate with Congress.
"I want you to show me the problems you have," said Enyart. "Show me that leaky roof. Because if you've got a leaking roof, and I know about it, I can help you fix it."
Enyart will be making a visit to the Marion VA next week. He'll be meeting with staff and doctors. Enyart says he'll also be to talking one-on-one with patients.
Enyart's Congressional challenger, Mike Bost, also weighed in on the resignation as well. Bost says it's clear new leadership is needed at the VA.
Bost says that veterans "deserve the care they were promised, and the next Secretary must have their confidence."
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