Two top veterans groups — the American Legion and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) — voiced their displeasure Wednesday with President Obama’s remarks on the growing VA scandal.
The American Legion said in a statement that the president’s decision not to announce the firing of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki was “an unfortunate one,” while Paul Rieckhoff, the CEO and founder of IAVA, called Mr. Obama’s response “a tremendous disappointment,” the Hill reported.
Mr. Obama, who addressed the issue Wednesday during a press briefing at the White House, said that Mr. Shinseki “cares deeply” about the VA’s mission and that he would “not going to be interested in continuing to serve” if he felt he is incapable of solving its many problems. He said that any allegations that prove to be true regarding VA wait times would be “dishonorable” and “disgraceful.”
His refusal to fire Mr. Shinseki riled the veterans groups.
“The VA has been aware for some time that inappropriate scheduling procedures are widespread among its medical facilities,” American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger said, according to the Hill. “Yet Secretary Shinseki as taken no initiative in correcting the problem. Veterans continue to die waiting for their health care, senior VA executives continue to get their bonuses, and only after all of this is the secretary now pledging to fix what’s wrong.”
Mr. Rieckhoff said that the president did “nothing to quell the growing nationwide VA controversy. … Only decisive leadership, bold change and strong accountability will repair decades of failure.”
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