Veterans' Affairs Secretary Says He's 'Mad as Hell' but Not Planning to Resign
Veterans’ Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki explained that he would not resign his position after reports surfaced of secret waiting lists at veterans hospitals which were delaying care for veterans.
“I came here to make things better for veterans – that was my appointment by the president,” Shinseki explained, pointing out that he started every day with the intent to provide care to veterans.
“This is not a job, I’m here to accomplish a mission,” he added, reminding senators that under his leadership the department had made improvements in the last five years.
“We’re not done yet,” he said. “And I intend to continue this mission until I’m satisfied – either that goal or until I’m told by my commander in chief that my time has been served.”
Shinseki has been facing increasing calls for his resignation from members of Congress and the American Legion.
During the hearing, Shinseki said he was “mad as hell” but failed to display any emotion when questioned about the reports.
Any disciplinary actions, Shinseki explained, would rely on a pending report by the Veterans’ Affairs Inspector General, which he estimated would take at least three weeks to complete.
Dr. Robert Petzel, the Veterans’ Affairs Under Secretary for Health, insisted that the department was working on holding government officials accountable, but couldn’t offer any details of a specific case during the hearing.
Petzel vowed that offenders would be “disciplined” but couldn’t say whether or not they would lose their jobs.
“I don’t know whether that’s the appropriate level of punishment,” he replied when questioned by Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA).