UT vets, politicians split over VA resignation

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Utah veterans and congressional representatives hold differing views over the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki amid widespread troubles in the VA health care system.

Veterans lamented Friday’s resignation, but members of Utah’s congressional delegation say he had to go to change the VA’s culture.

Vietnam War veteran George Gutzmer, new commander of the Department of Utah Disabled American Veterans, said the VA health care system saved his life and Shinseki should have stayed on.

“I think it’s going to be worse, not better (without him),” he told the Deseret News (http://bit.ly/1oVw8k8 ).

Terry Schow, former director of the Utah Department of Veterans Affairs, said he was saddened by the resignation. Shinseki is a disabled veteran who lost part of his right foot to a mine in Vietnam.

“I am just sick of people using the veteran thing for a political point here or there,” Schow said. “Let’s fix the problem. That’s really what the answer is. I think if we could have let Shinseki stick around, we could have fixed them faster.”

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, was the only member of Utah’s congressional delegation to call for Shinseki to be replaced in the firestorm surrounding lengthy waits for veterans to get care at VA hospitals and reports that employees had tried to cover them up.

“I think he should have been fired. But that doesn’t ultimately solve the big, broad problem that is the VA,” he said. “I think the FBI needs to get involved, and there are probably some people that should be prosecuted for manipulating that data that may have cost people their lives.”

Rep. Jim Matheson, Utah’s lone Democrat in Congress, said Shinseki’s resignation was appropriate “given the egregious wrongdoings” in the VA.

U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said that while he did not call for Shinseki’s resignation, he does not fault those who did so.

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Information from: Deseret News, http://www.deseretnews.com

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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