Begich Statement on Resignation of Secretary Shinseki
U.S. Senator Mark Begich today offered the following statement in response to news of Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary General Eric Shinseki resignation:
“There are few more important responsibilities of the federal government than caring for our nation’s veterans. General Eric Shinseki ably served his nation in war and continued to serve his nation’s veterans as Veterans Affairs secretary. He has demonstrated a lifelong dedication to our country, his troops and to our veterans.”
“Secretary Shinseki’s resignation won’t fix the problem various reports have found of poor treatment and care of our veterans. The VA needs strong leaders now more than ever before. That’s why I will push to swiftly find a new leader so we can get back to doing the important business of providing veterans the quality care they need and deserve.
“Fortunately, my staff and I have a strong and productive relationship with the VA here in Alaska. We have regular meetings to discuss gaps in services and to work on solutions. As a result of our good relationship with local providers here in Alaska, we got ahead of the issues now coming to light in other states. For example, when wait lists for care began to grow we partnered with VA to put innovative programs in place to ease the backlog. As a result, over the past year the number of veterans on the waiting list for primary care in Anchorage was reduced from more than 900 to under 20 and wait times to see a primary care provider were reduced from 90 days to just seven days.
“As a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee I will be aggressively monitoring the outcomes of the internal reports and demanded answers so that the VA in the Lower 48 can achieve the progress we have seen here in Alaska.”