Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 10, 2015

McCain Not Calling for Shinseki’s Resignation — Yet

Shinseki (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Shinseki (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. John McCain refused to join the American Legion in calling for the resignation of Veteran Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki in the wake of reports about veterans dying waiting for care.

“I can understand their anger,” the Arizona Republican said Monday in a brief interview with reporters off the Senate floor.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has come under increasing scrutiny following reports of as many as 40 deaths of Arizona veterans while waiting for care.

“I am not proud of the job that Gen. Shinseki has done, but I want to get the Inspector General’s report done, I want to get the hearings done. … We have time to make a judgment,” said McCain, a long-serving member of the Armed Services Committee.

“Right now I am willing to give the process a chance to go through,” he added.

McCain’s comments come after Daniel Dellinger, national commander of the American Legion, today called for the resignation of Shinseki. Dellinger also called for the resignation of Under Secretary for Health Robert Petzel and Under Secretary for Benefits Allison Hickey.

But the Veterans of Foreign Wars, another veterans interest group, agreed with McCain and today came out against the call for the VA resignations.

“It is paramount that Secretary Shinseki get publicly in front of this immediately to address the valid concerns of veterans and their families, and to reestablish the credibility of the entire VA health and benefits systems, and that of his own office,” said VFW National Commander William A. Thien.

“The VFW looks forward to the swift completion of the ongoing VA Inspector General’s investigation, and we also support closer congressional oversight to help ensure that the VA does not fail in its mission to care for wounded, ill and injured veterans and their survivors,” Thien said.

It’s alleged that the Phoenix VA Medical Center kept a secret waiting list, which included veterans waiting more than 200 days for an appointment, the Legion said. The hospital also kept a public list that included only patients that would be seen in the next 15 days, a reasonable period intended to make executives look good and earn generous bonuses for the top brass.

“I did support the leaders of the Phoenix hospital being suspended because there was enough smoke,” McCain said.

“The disturbing reports coming from the Phoenix VA Medical Center are just one of what appears to be a pattern of scandals that have infected the entire system,” Dellinger said in an op-ed. “It has been more than 20 years since The American Legion has called for the resignation of a public official. It’s not something we do lightly.”

One of the veterans was James Pert who served as a Marine in Vietnam, according to the Legion. He had been diagnosed with skin cancer, diabetes and Post Traumatic Stress. Pert died as he waited for a medical appointment at the Phoenix VA Medical Center.

The American Legion currently has about 2.4 million members in 14,000 posts worldwide.

The VFW has nearly 2 million members.

Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.

Comments (57)

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  1. Jim S.

    May 6, 2014
    1:18 p.m.

    Just what the conservative, in this case the Always reactive and not proactive for vets, the legion, with their grossly over paid executives, ideology wants, Get rid of one that’s doing the job, just as the conservatives in congress want, and in this case with help from the entire cabinet, hired to do!
    The Country Served that ‘Talks the Talk’, way too much and with symbols, especially the so called conservatives and that includes the veterans within those ranks, but very rarely ‘Walks the Walk’ especially through their representatives, federal and states!!

    Why do Conservatives and much of the Country Attack the VA and it’s dedicated civil servant personal as well as the many needed volunteers!!

    Freedom Isn’t Free, We Paid For It, American Veterans!!
    Reality as to those of us who’ve served:

    They, conservatives, don’t seek a smaller government, that’s never been their goal. They seek a privatized for corporate profit government, with no accountability, regulations, built into what would be corporate run agencies contracted by them, no bid or for campaign contributions, and paid with the peoples treasury. and much more expensive to run and maintain, and we’ve been seeing just what those private contracts have been giving back, think the NSA and the military contractors and the costs for, off the government treasury, they Never mention the private sector, with their huge amounts of corporate cash especially in the executive suites, in the hearings or public displays, that handles similar issues, like hospitals and clinics as they attack VA personal when issues arise. Nor do they try to help the, under funded and especially with our wars, VA in overcoming, the VA does that on their own mostly, and in these past some five years with the help of the Executive branch and it’s Cabinet, and with what is allotted to them through the representatives of the people served!!

    “”26 March 2014 – In U.S., hospital-acquired infections run rampant””
    “”16 April 2014 – Children’s Hospital investigated five patient deaths from deadly fungal disease in 2009″”
    “”Patient slapping at St. Joe’s symptom of persistent problem at U.S. hospitals: bad behavior by docs””

    “12 years also is a long time. We now have a lifetime responsibility to a generation of service members, veterans and their families.” Dr. Jonathan Woodson 11 Sep. 2013: ‘With 9/11 Came Lifetime Responsibility’ {two tax cuts, especially huge for the wealthy, with not a bit of guilt conscious for, came with these two recent unpaid for wars, nor the results of, DeJa-Vu all over again from the previous decades and wars from! Ignore the many issues, by those served, no need to fund!}

    Sen. Bernie Sanders told Republicans: “If you can’t afford to take care of your veterans, than don’t go war. These people are bearing the brunt of what war is about, We have a moral obligation to support them.” February, 26th, 2014

    “If military action is worth our troops’ blood, it should be worth our treasure, too” “not just in the abstract, but in the form of a specific ante by every American.” -Andrew Rosenthal 10 Feb. 2013

    Where were the ‘offsets’ to federal spending as the rubber stamping, more then the off the books wars with no-bid contracts, was going on and claiming ‘patriotism’ for?

    TX-19 Congressional Candidate Neal Marchbanks – Veteran: 28 March 2014 – “Congress controls the budget for the VA and it is the fault of Congress that the VA does not have enough employees and that the facilities are too small.”
    Congress, in Veteran Marchbanks statement, are the people served and who representatives work for, or are supposed to!

    USN All Shore ’67-’71 GMG3 Vietnam In Country ’70-’71 – Independent*

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