Under heavy criticism for cover-ups of delays in veterans’ health care, President Obama used his weekly address Saturday to pledge that veterans will receive the quality medical care they deserve.
“As Commander in Chief, I believe that taking care of our veterans and their families is a sacred obligation,” Mr. Obama told Americans. “It’s been one of the causes of my presidency.”
As the nation honors veterans on the Memorial Day weekend, Mr. Obama is resisting calls to fire Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki for a scandal over wait times at a VA hospital in Phoenix. The department’s inspector general is investigating reports that workers there covered up delays in the amount of time patients waited for health-care services.
News reports allege that as many as 40 veterans died while awaiting care at the Phoenix facility.
In his address, Mr. Obama said the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have shown that “we have to work even harder as a nation to make sure all our veterans get the benefits and opportunities they’ve earned.”
“They’ve done their duty, and they ask nothing more than that this country does ours — now and for decades to come,” the president said. “Let’s keep working to make sure that our country upholds our sacred trust to all who’ve served.
The president dispatched Mr. Shinseki and White House deputy chief of staff Rob Nabors to Phoenix on Wednesday to speak to hospital officials. Mr. Obama is to receive their preliminary findings next week.
At a press conference this week, Mr. Obama said the allegations are “disgraceful” and that those responsible for allegedly covering up the delays would be held accountable if the charges are proven to be true.