VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigns



Posted on May 30, 2014 at 11:31 AM

Updated Friday, May 30 at 5:19 PM

(ABC NEWS) -- Embattled VA Secretary Eric Shinseki tendered his resignation to President Obama on Friday, the president announced at the White House.

"He does not want to be a distraction," Obama said. "That was Ric's judgment on behalf of his fellow veterans."

The president announced that Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan D. Gibson will serve as acting Secretary.

Obama and Shinseki met face-to-face at the White House Friday morning.

Earlier Friday, Shinseki addressed a homeless veterans advocacy group and apologized for the scandal over veterans' wait times for health care and said he was surprised by the "lack of integrity" some VA officials had displayed, announcing a series of actions he's taken since the release of Wednesday's interim findings by the Veterans Affairs Administration's inspector-general investigation.
"I apologize as the senior leader of the Department of Veterans Affairs," Shinseki said.

"I can't explain the lack of integrity among the leaders of some of our health care facilities," Shinseki told the group, calling it something he "rarely encountered" during his time in uniform.

President Obama, in an interview with Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan, hosts of ABC's "Kelly and Michael," that aired today said: "I don't want any veteran to not be getting the kind of services they deserve."

But the president also had some praise for the embattled VA secretary: "I will say that Eric Shinseki is a American hero, wounded vet, somebody who lead our troops during very difficult times and cares about veterans more than just about anybody I know."

ABC's Chris Good and Devin Dwyer contributed reporting.

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Today, Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) released the following statement on the resignation of Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki:

“The ongoing revelations of undelivered care and misconduct at VA medical facilities are a national disgrace. The administration, Congress, and VA leaders must continue to investigate so that everyone can be held accountable for these failures, and so we can ensure our VA health care system has the resources it needs to provide the best care for our veterans, who have more than earned it.

“Secretary Shinseki has taken responsibility for these failures, and his resignation provides an opportunity for new leadership to begin to address widespread mismanagement in the VA system and take swift corrective action. I thank Secretary Shinseki for his service to our nation, and I wish him the best.”

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell issued the following statement today regarding the resignation of Secretary Shinseki:

“Secretary Eric Shinseki has given this nation a lifetime of honorable service, and he is owed a debt of gratitude for his personal sacrifices made in and out of uniform.

“The denial of care to our veterans is a national disgrace, and it’s fitting that the person who oversees the Department of Veterans Affairs has accepted responsibility for this growing scandal and resigned. The findings of the interim Inspector General report reveal a systemic failure within the Department of Veterans Affairs caused by a failure of leadership and supervision up and down the chain of command.

“The President needs to replace Secretary Shinseki with a capable leader and manager who possesses the skills, leadership ability and determination to correct the failings of the VA, support the thousands of VA workers who are committed to serving our veterans, and provide all of those who have bravely served with the timely care they have earned.  This change of leadership is a meaningful initial step to meet our solemn obligations, but what’s still needed is an agreement by the President and his allies in Congress to join Republicans in legislation that would help to fix this system that has so failed our veterans.”

Congressman Brett Guthrie today issued the following statement following the announcement that the Secretary of the VA, Eric Shinseki, has resigned:

“Secretary Shinseki made the right decision. An interim report by the Inspector General confirmed what we had heard – catastrophic wait times and secret lists hiding the urgent needs of patients. The VA needs a new set of eyes to properly audit its facilities and I believe that removing those who allowed this horrific situation to occur is the right decision. It’s time for swift action and a strong response.

“The House has taken action by passing several targeted bills, and more work lies ahead. Combined with continued oversight, I am confident we will be able to learn how these systemic failures happened and introduce new policies to prevent them from happening again.”