President Barack Obama said Friday that U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned over a veterans healthcare delay scandal that has embarrassed the administration.
Obama announced that he accepted Shinseki’s resignation “with considerable regret” after meeting with him on Friday morning and named Deputy VA Secretary Sloan Gibson as the temporary chief until a permanent successor is announced.
Eric Shinseki came under fire for long waits at Veterans Administration hospitals and an alleged cover-up of the deaths of several patients awaiting treatment at a VA hospital in Phoenix.
A recent report by an internal watchdog group at the Veteran’s Administration said patients at the Phoenix hospital were waiting 115 days for a first appointment, on average. That is far longer than the wait times the hospital itself had reported.
(For more on the problems at the VA, see the documentary ‘Death & Dishonor—Crisis at the VA’ here)
One of Shinseki’s top deputies, Robert Petzel, the VA undersecretary for health care, resigned earlier this month.
Several top U.S.officials had called for Shinseki’s resignation, as has the country’s largest veteran’s group, the American Legion. Following Shinseki’s decision to resign, lawmakers were quick to react on Twitter.
Obama held a press conference last week where he promised that any employees who falsified records on patient treatment would be held accountable. A review of the agency is slated for delivery in June.
“I want to know what’s working, I want to know what’s not working and I want specific recommendations on how VA can up their game,” Obama said last week.