05.30.14

Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy On The Resignation Of Veterans Affairs Secretary Shinseki

With the resignation of Secretary Shinseki, it is time for deep soul-searching at the Department of Veterans Affairs.  Secretary Shinseki is himself a disabled veteran, an experienced leader and an ardent patriot.  He oversaw some notable achievements during his tenure that are benefitting veterans.  But the fact that he was unable to lead the VA to a place where it can routinely provide the quality, timely care our veterans earned should be deeply troubling to all of us.  Systemic reforms, sufficient resources and insistence on accountability will be needed, and promptly.   I call on the President to make reform of the VA a centerpiece of his remaining time in office.  The many good men and women working in the VA need to become forces of renewal to overcome these challenges.  And Congress must pay ongoing attention to this appalling situation to provide the real and ongoing oversight, lawmaking, and funding needed to achieve where we have previously failed.

When members of Congress cast votes to send our men and women into harm’s way, we are all responsible for treating the visible and invisible wounds they suffer.  Let us accompany this change in leadership with a change in perspective here in the Senate, and devote the bipartisan care and attention to fulfillment of that responsibility that our veterans deserve.

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