- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald faced calls to resign Tuesday after he compared wait times at VA health care facilities to waiting lines at Disneyland.

“Secretary McDonald’s preposterous statement is right out of Never Never Land,” said Sen. Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican. “I call on him to resign because it’s clear he cannot prioritize getting our veterans the health care they deserve and have earned in a timely manner. Dismissing wait times when veterans can often wait months for an appointment is negligent and a clear sign that new leadership is needed at the VA.”

An official at the Concerned Veterans for America, Dan Caldwell, said the group would be calling for Mr. McDonald’s resignation if his likely replacement, deputy Sloan Gibson, weren’t considered equally bad by the organization. Mr. Caldwell said the secretary’s misguided comment and his performance in office show that the next president shouldn’t keep him on at the VA.

“There’s a much larger issue here,” Mr. Caldwell said. “You can make a pretty compelling argument that things are actually worse than when he took over.”

In a meeting with journalists Monday, Mr. McDonald said that Disney does not measure how many hours customers wait in line, and that the VA should move away from wait times as a primary measure of how the agency is caring for veterans.

Mr. McDonald refused to apologize Tuesday for his comments.

“If I was misunderstood, or if I said the wrong thing, I’m glad that I’ve had the opportunity to correct it,” he said on MSNBC.

He defended his efforts since 2014 to improve the VA and its hospitals.

“Look, we get it. Wait times are important,” Mr. McDonald said. “There’s no question wait times are important. But there’s more to the veteran experience than just wait times.”

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