Veterans react to Shinseki resignation - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Veterans react to Shinseki resignation

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by Jolene Toves

Guam - Local veterans are reacting to the resignation of one of President Barack Obama's longest serving cabinet members. He's a man that actually visited Guam in 2011 pledging to help the island's men and women who have served our country.

Amid a whirlwind of controversy, veterans affair secretary Eric Shinseki turned in his resignation to the president over the weekend. He stepped down following a scandal over delayed treatment for veterans and a preliminary audit which showed schedulers were instructed to enter false data to hide actual wait times.  Prior to his resignation Shinseki issued a public apology saying he senior level bureaucrats lied to him about delays in patient care and phony wait lists created to hide them.

Shineski said, "That breach of integrity is irresponsible. It is indefensible and unacceptable to me. So given the facts I now know, I apologize as the senior leader of the Department of Veterans Affairs."

Local veterans like Tom Devlin say they weren't surprised by Shinseki's resignation because someone must be held accountable. He also doesn't believe Shinseki was clueless of what was happening. "I think a lot of veterans were disturbed that when he was testifying in the hearing that certain things he didn't know about or wasn't told 1838 a lot of veterans would say that wouldn't fly he was there 5 and half years," he said.

Meanwhile Veteran's Affairs director John Unpingco says the resignation caught him off guard, noting, "He ran a tight ship and you know what happens in a hospital in a part of the country certainly it happened in his watch. And he is held accountable but you know that thing could have happened in a lot of places."

While Unpingco questions whether the issues were as a result of past administrators Devlin says in five and a half years the right questions should have been asked and if his staff was not giving the right information then Shinseki should have looked deeper. "There has to be accountability as to what happened and people have to be removed medical people if there were doctors that were involved in this they have to lose their license," he said.

"And fudging figures and putting people on waiting lists... people should be fired and maybe even indicted and go to jail. Personally for me I would like to see his staff all of his staff go - clean house if the secretary goes then they go," he said.

Replacing Shinseki temporarily is his deputy Sloan Gibson.  Names that have been circulating as possible replacements include General Ray Odierno, who led US orces in Iraq and is now Army Chief of Staff. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for Obama and George W. Bush, and Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, who lost both of her legs in Iraq. She would bring experience, having already served as an assistant secretary in the VA.

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