Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki is seated before speaking at a meeting of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, May 30, 2014, in Washington.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki is seated before speaking at a meeting of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, May 30, 2014, in Washington.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki is seated before speaking at a meeting of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, May 30, 2014, in Washington.

U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said:

“I personally appreciate General Shinseki’s unshakable commitment to our country and want to thank him for his decades of service. As I’ve said, the decision of whether and when he should resign as Secretary of Veterans Affairs was between him and the president, and I think this simply got to the point where he felt that he was a distraction from the pressing need to address the serious, systemic problems facing the VA.

”I know that General Shinseki is driven by both a commitment to serving our veterans and a desire to maintain the public trust. He is guided by the question, ‘What is in the best interest of our veterans?’ I think that while he would have liked to have been the leader who fixed the problems at the VA, he also recognized that we needed a change in leadership in order to proceed effectively. In that light, I think his resignation today is not a sign of failure, but of the same humility and dedication that he has always displayed in his years of service to our country. I think America and Hawaii can be proud of him.

”I hope that General Shinseki is right, and that we can now make real progress in addressing the very serious, and in some cases intolerable, shortcomings at the VA that are affecting the men and women who have served our nation.”

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) said:

“General Eric Shinseki is an American hero; he is a man of character and integrity, with a deep love and commitment for serving our country.  Veterans everywhere, and the people of General Shinseki’s home state of Hawai‘i, continue to have great love and respect for him and his service.  There is no question that he took his responsibility as Secretary of the VA personally and seriously, because he cares deeply for his fellow veterans, and did his best to lead a VA riddled with challenges that have existed for decades.

“But this day is not about General Shinseki.  This day is about all of our servicemembers and veterans, and the tragedy that has been occurring within the VA, an organization which has lost sight of its mission.  Our loyalty, anger, and hurt must be focused on taking action to ensure that not another day passes where a veteran in need remains waiting in the dark.  We are facing a crisis, with veterans waiting months and sometimes years on official or secret waiting lists, while others are lost in the bureaucracy.  This is unacceptable, and dishonors these great Americans who sacrificed so much.  I am currently drafting legislation that will ensure that veterans are immediately able to access care from a doctor, whether in the VA system or not.  This is an urgent action that must be taken to begin to deal with the immediate crisis and ensure all veterans are getting the care they need.  Until the VA undergoes a systemic overhaul, and is once again able to deliver the highest standard of care to our veterans, we need to take creative steps that will yield immediate results.”

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz, D-HI, said:

“General Shinseki is a war hero and public servant who gave everything he had to our country and the job of Secretary of Veterans Affairs.  In his judgement, it was time for new leadership to move forward. The problems uncovered are appalling and unacceptable and the VA must deliver accountability for any wrongdoing and systemic changes to ensure this doesn’t happen again.  I pledge to work with the new Acting Secretary to make sure all veterans get quality and timely care.”

Senator Mazie K. Hirono, a member of the Senate Armed Services and the Veterans’ Affairs committees, said:

“General Eric Shinseki’s patriotism and dedication to this nation is without parallel. I’ve had a number of opportunities to talk directly with General Shinseki about the challenges facing the VA. I agree with the President’s statement that his ‘commitment to our veterans is unquestioned.’

“I respect the Secretary’s decision to step aside in order to avoid being a distraction. The focus should be on delivering care to our veterans and ensuring the VA has the necessary resources to accomplish that. As I’ve done all year long, I met with veterans groups in Hawaii this week to discuss their firsthand experiences with the VA. I will take their comments, insights and concerns back to DC to inform my work to address the unacceptable situation that has been uncovered.”

Hirono had previously questioned Shinseki directly during a hearing of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee on May 15, 2014. This week, Hirono met with veterans in Hawaii, including hosting a roundtable in Aliamanu.

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