UPDATE: Coffman issued a statement about Shinseki’s resignation:
“Secretary Shinseki was a great soldier who served our nation with honor and distinction in the United States Army,” said Coffman. “But as the VA secretary, he failed to lead. I urge the President to appoint a proven leader to take charge of the VA who will end the culture of corruption and bureaucratic incompetence that is hurting our veterans. History will judge this president harshly if he fails to confront this great failure with decisiveness and vision.”
Republican U.S. Congressman Mike Coffman can add “holding VA accountable to veterans” to his pile of accomplishments as a Congressman. After investigating delays at VA medical facilities for over a year and after being the first member of Congress to call for Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki’s resignation earlier this month, Shinseki has stepped down.
While many speculated that Shinseki’s “serious conversation” with President Obama would result in his departure, it was when U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, who served as his deputy at the Department of Veterans Affairs, called for his resignation that was the final nail in the coffin. Et tu Brute?
Five years ago, when Shinseki was sworn in, he said: “at the end of each day, our true measure of success is the timeliness, the quality, and the consistency of services and support we provide to veterans.” This was clearly a failure within the administration. Coffman was the ultimate leader in demanding accountability for our veterans, even when Shinseki and Obama would not.
Shinseki’s resignation follows a slew of mismanagement at the VA, particularly as it relates to the government-run medical care. Last month, it was revealed that the Phoenix VA center had a secret waiting list that health care officials used to place “problematic” veterans. As a result of these waiting lists, at least 40 veterans died waiting for treatment. Earlier this month, an Inspector General’s report showed that the Fort Collins VA medical center had similar issues.
The final straw may have been the eighth Inspector General report that showed the VA problems were not isolated to one or two facilities, but were systemic. There was no word on a new VA Secretary.