President Obama broke his silence on the Veterans Affairs scandal Wednesday morning only minutes after meeting with VA Secretary Eric Shinseski and White House deputy chief of staff Rob Nabors, reports the Washington Post. While the president promised to hold all hospitals that falsified records accountable, assuming the investigation by the VA Inspector General’s Office proves fruitful, the president also took the time to defend both the VA and Secretary Shinseki, and warned the public against “swift reckoning”:
“There are millions of veterans who are getting really good service from the VA, who are getting really good treatment from the VA. I know because I get letters from veterans sometimes asking me to write letters of recommendation or praise to a doctor or a nurse or a facility that couldn’t have given them better treatment. This is a big system with a lot of really good people in it who care about our veterans deeply.”
President Obama made sure to point out that he was not trying to excuse the VA, but rather remind the public that the current allegations (which he referred to as being “dishonorable” and “disgraceful”) are mere anomalies that are not at all representative of how the VA functions as a whole. And the president also explicitly stated that he “will not tolerate” those hospitals and officials found to be engaging in shoddy behavior.
According to Fox News, the Inspector General’s Office is currently investigating 26 facilities. Meanwhile, the House of Representatives is preparing to vote on a measure that would proffer Shinseski “greater authority to fire or demote senior executives.” Mind you, the measure would still leave Shinseki himself in place – a notion opposed by a growing chorus of both Republicans and Democrats who feel like his monumental incompetence and clear lack of emotion (as demonstrated during a Senate committee last Thursday) are a detriment to the VA.
President Obama himself rebutted this sentiment by noting Shinseski’s incredible record track, which includes lowering homelessness among veterans and expanding access to veterans with disabilities:
“He has put his heart and soul into this thing, and he has taken it very seriously… He has been a great public servant and a great warrior on behalf of the United States of America, and we are going to work with him to solve the problem.”
President Obama also made mention of his own track record on VA issues, though many individuals both in the media and in Congress are not impressed. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) and Senator John McCain (R-Ariz) both slammed Obama’s speech for lacking seriousness and being “wholly insufficient” (McCain). Several TV pundits have also expressed a similar sentiment.
To hear President Obama yourself, check the video below:
Image via [Google Images]