Paralyzed Veterans of America wishes to thank Secretary Shinseki for
his years of service, both in the military and as VA Secretary. We
credit him for his work in reducing homelessness among veterans,
and services for veterans exposed to Agent Orange and for those dealing
with post-traumatic stress, and increasing resources for and
modernizing the VA disability claims process.
While Paralyzed Veterans has not been calling for the Secretary to
resign before the completion of a full investigation into allegations of
systemic misconduct, the building crisis and growing calls from both
Democrats and Republicans made his resignation inevitable.
Paralyzed Veterans has been deeply troubled by the increasing reports
of egregious behavior by VA staff within the health care system. The
resignation of Secretary Shinseki will not solve this problem that has
many silent fathers. In fact, there is the potential that his
resignation will be used, falsely, as a demonstration of tough action
taken by the administration. This cannot be the end of VA action, and
should not be considered even the beginning of action because Secretary
Shinseki’s resignation creates a chasm at the highest level of
leadership in a department that is now in search of an identity going
forward. Now that an ostensible distraction has been removed, however,
we need to focus on the actual problems and solutions.
“I believe Secretary Shinseki was committed to the VA mission and we
applaud his efforts. Paralyzed Veterans will focus on ensuring that
timely and substantive actions are taken to restore trust and faith in
the VA health care system,” stated Townsend.
Restoring trust and faith begins with taking real steps to address
these ongoing problems, starting with immediate confirmation of a new
Under Secretary for Health. The chosen successor must champion a
veteran-centric culture of care and restore VA’s health infrastructure
to meet the growing demand for care, particularly in the specialized
services that cannot be delivered in the private sector. The first
priority of the Department of Veterans Affairs is the delivery of
timely, quality health care to veterans.
Paralyzed Veterans insists that Congress and the Administration work
together and take all steps necessary to strengthen the VA health care
system so that it truly meets the needs of our nation’s veterans. Moving
forward, Congress must do more than call for the ouster of federal
agency and department heads who share its culpability when inadequate
resources and underfunding manifest into systemic failures and
contribute to creeping diminution of standards. Our lawmakers need to
acknowledge their role in and responsibility for ensuring that VA is
adequately resourced and positioned to rebuild faith in a system that
has not functioned effectively over the past 10 years. Our nation’s
veterans deserve better!
Paralyzed Veterans remains the leading voice for veterans who seek
care in the
VA health care system. We are committed to working with the
VA through the transition and with Acting Secretary Sloan Gibson to
ensure that our nation’s veterans get the best quality health care and
benefits that they have earned and deserve.