- The Washington Times - Friday, May 30, 2014

Rep. Tammy Duckworth, a wounded veteran and former Veterans Affairs official, withdrew her support for Secretary Eric Shinseki Friday, saying it’s time for him to step down.

“Our first priority should be the veterans and at this point whether Secretary Shinseki will stay or go is too much of a distraction,” the Illinois Democrat told The Washington Post. “I think he has to go. He certainly loves veterans, but it’s time for new leadership.”

Of the 100-plus veterans serving in Congress, about a quarter have called on the secretary to resign. As of Friday morning, 28 veterans in Congress have said it’s time for Mr. Shinseki to step down. Several are combat veterans, including Sens. John McCain and John Walsh, and Reps. Duncan Hunter, Adam Kinzinger and Ms. Duckworth.

Almost 120 lawmakers have called for the secretary’s resignation as of Friday morning, according to data compiled by the Military Times.

Ms. Duckworth was serving as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot in Iraq when a rocket-propelled grenade hit her helicopter. She lost both legs and partial use of her right arm in the attack and was awarded the Purple Heart. Following her recovery, she went on to serve as the assistant secretary for Veterans Affairs under Mr. Shinseki.

Just last week, Ms. Duckworth had expressed support for her old boss in an interview with The Post.

“I think he should fix it. I’m not putting trying to put words in his mouth here, but I would think that he would want to fix it,” she said.

Some veterans are still standing behind the secretary. Sen. Jim Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican who served in the Army, for example, said earlier this month that he still supports the secretary.

“I’ve been working with Gen. Shinseki for many years. He’s made great sacrifices for his country, including loss of limb. So I’m not about to call for his resignation,” Mr. Inhofe told Politico.

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