Shinseki angered by V.A. allegations; local congressman backs him

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by Mike Gooding, 13News Now

WVEC.com

Posted on May 15, 2014 at 11:30 PM

YORKTOWN -- House Armed Services Committee member Rob Wittman (R-Va., 1st District) isn't calling for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki's resignation. Yet.

Wittman says he's concerned about continuing reports of treatment delays, cover-ups and patient deaths at the V.A. 

"It's not only disappointing based on the performance. What's disappointing to me is the time period that this has gone on," Wittman said. "And I understand the challenges there are, but I also understand the urgency that needs to be portrayed in how the agency is being managed. I'm concerned and disappointed this has gone on so long and the nature of how this is playing itself out in affecting the lives, the survivability of veterans because they haven't received care."

Wittman's remarks came the very day that Shinseki was grilled on Capitol Hill. 

Shinkseki was summoned to testify before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, in the wake of revelations about elaborate schemes to hide records of patients at Fort Collins in Colorado and of delayed treatment resulting in at least 40 deaths in Phoenix. 

Shinseki said he is "mad as hell" about the reports claiming he is "committed to taking all the actions necessary to identify exactly what the issues are, to fix them and to strengthen the veterans' trust in V.A. health care."

He is resisting the call from the American Legion and North Carolina Senator Richard Burr and others to step down. He told the panel today he's there to accomplish a mission. The retired Army General said he'd stay on the job until President Obama tells him otherwise.

In an interview with 13News Now,  Wittman said the 114,000-plus veterans in his district makes his the most veteran-rich district in the country. He said he's especially concerned about a recent federal study which determined there were two patient deaths at the Hampton V.A. Medical Center related to treatment delays.  He added that although vets deserve better than the continuing treatment backlogs they're getting now, he is not prepared to call for Shinseki's ouster. 

"I'm not calling for General Shinseki's resignation, but I am calling for him to hold everyone there more accountable," Wittman said. "And I think he needs to be more aggressive in the agency there."

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