Posted: 8:26 am Friday, May 23rd, 2014

Michelle Nunn joins calls for resignation of VA secretary 

By Jim Galloway

Michelle Nunn, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, speaks to her supporters after her Tuesday nomination. AP/ /Akili-Casundria Ramsess

Michelle Nunn, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, speaks to her supporters after her Tuesday nomination. AP/ /Akili-Casundria Ramsess

Michelle Nunn, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, this morning split with the Obama administration and called for the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki in response to a growing scandal over delayed treatment and faked records.

“There is growing evidence that the Department of Veterans Affairs needs new leadership in order to reform its badly broken bureaucracy,” Nunn said in a campaign release.

Nunn’s call comes one day after Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democratic candidate in Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race, also demanded Shinseki’s head.

Nunn isn’t the first Democrat in Georgia, a state with multiple military bases, to demand Shinseki’s departure. U.S. Reps. David Scott of Atlanta and John Barrow of Augusta did so earlier this week.

Some background from the Associated Press:

Democrat Rick Weiland, who is running for South Dakota’s open Senate seat, also called for Shinseki’s ouster, as did a Democrat running for an open House seat in New Jersey and two Republicans challenging vulnerable Democrats in northern Minnesota House districts.

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., added to the calls for Shinseki’s resignation, saying the VA crisis was “a national embarrassment” that requires new leadership.

Shinseki, 71, said Thursday that he intends to remain on the job. “I serve at the pleasure of the president,” he told reporters at the Capitol. The former Army general and chief of staff added that “this is not the first time” he has faced controversy in his career.

Here’s the whole of Nunn statement:

“There is growing evidence that the Department of Veterans Affairs needs new leadership in order to reform its badly broken bureaucracy. Despite efforts over the years to improve services, the agency still lacks modern practices, world class processes and modern information systems. And the diverse challenges our veterans face call upon the VA to have the most sophisticated tools and most streamlined processes.

“Our World War II and Korean War veterans are dealing with issues associated with an aging population, as well as the wounds of war. Those who served in Vietnam are now showing the effects of Agent Orange and other conditions that have taken decades to develop. And our younger veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are dealing with physical and emotional issues that provide unique challenges and require specialized treatment.

“General Shinseki is a veteran himself, and one we should honor and respect. He has nobly served our nation during war and as an active duty military leader. But for all his achievements as a military leader, he has not been able to reform the VA to meet the needs of our veteran population over the last 6 years.

“It has become increasingly clear that we need new leadership to build confidence, focus and accountability at the VA to fix what is wrong with the agency. I hope that General Shinseki will step aside to allow for fresh leadership to tackle these pressing issues and support the veterans that the General is deeply committed to serving.

“As we anticipate Memorial Day, we must remember that we are responsible to the men and women who have served our nation and we must be vigilant in ensuring we live up to our commitments to these brave veterans.”

50 comments
Jhank
Jhank

General Shinseki was an outstanding general and soldier. However he was never the overseer of people who thrive and progress up the chain by concealing the truth from the White House. Doctors and nurses who attempted to make the truth known were severely mistreated by administrators. The Congress should appoint a bi-partisan blue ribbon committee to get to the bottom of this problem.

General Shinseki may be at the right place but apparently at the wrong time. After all he is use to commanding honorable men and women.

WoofyOne
WoofyOne

5 1/2 years into an administration that ran on bringing the VA into the 21st century. The President needs to sweep the VA leadership out that has failed him and our veterans. Heck maybe he should step down himself.

DS
DS

Robert Gates had similar incidents during his tenure as Secretary of Defense, and it drove him nuts. I read his book, Duty, and it details the problems of culture and attitude among some of the senior military who allow these kinds of problems to go unresolved. The average soldier/worker is great, but some senior leaders seem indifferent to problems because they just don't know how to change the bureaucracy.

It wore Gates out, because he felt like he was the only guy who both cared deeply about these problems and had sufficient authority to get anything done. Even at his level, the bureaucracy often won, and he had to go outside channels to fix problems.

I respect Shinsecki, but I agree with Nunn and others that it might be time to throw a fresh leader into the fray.

Baumer_1
Baumer_1

From my understanding these wait times have been an issue for decades and are nothing new. Like so many failures of business and government we unfortunately have to wait for tragedy to get any kind of action.


It seems to me the real issue is that VA medical centers are under-staffed. The average VA hospital has a doctor to patient ratio of just under 2 doctors per 1000 patients. Nationally that ration is 2.5 doctors per 1000 patients (see VA stats and World Bank stats on health).   I actually looked at taking a position as a physician with the VA in the late '70s and immediately reconsidered when I saw how low the pay was.  Even today pay for VA doctors is too low to attract top doctors. On average they (the VA) offer 75% the starting pay for in the medical field.  And for some specialist jobs like cardiology, neurology, and anesthesiology only about 50%.


With the "big war" vets(WWII, Korea, and Vietnam) getting as old as they are the VA will generally need to either shift strategies as medical service providers or ramp up the hiring of physicians and surgeons.  Both of which will require Congressional authorization (which will not happen so long as the GOP can try to pin this on Obama).


The doctors that falsified their data should be fired, if Shinseki knew about it he should resign too. If not, the GOP should drop the persecution and work with Congressional Democrats for VA reform rather than making this another witch-hunt like Benghazi or the IRS targeting nonsense.

tiz
tiz

When she was asked about Obamacare this week and if she would have voted for it, she replied that she wasn't in the Senate when it passed so how she would have voted really isn't important. So I guess since she still isn't in the Senate, her opinion on this matter really isn't important either. Guess she gets to pick and choose what' the voters should hear from her. 

DavidFarrar
DavidFarrar

Ms. Nunn calls for the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, but fails to see its connection to Obanacare.


ex animo

davidfarrar

LegolasMirkwood
LegolasMirkwood

I agree with Nunn,                               !!BUT!!


A word from a now dead veteran on his death bed to my ears in a Georgia VA hospice (1999), a reminder for Memorial Day.  He told me emphatically, and with GREAT EMPHASIS, that the VA had taken such very good care of him to the end of his days.  Told me in a way that demanded that it should be known and passed along as his final wish on this Earth.


FROM THE GRAVE TO YOUR VIEWING DEVICE.

Bill OrvisWhite
Bill OrvisWhite

First there was this incredible push to ram this illegal health care scheme down our throats, huge tax increases, major added regulatory burdens on corporations and businesses alike, then Fast and Furious, Benghazi and now this VA DEBACLE - WHICH IS THE PRESIDENT'S RESPONSIBILITY! Sorry folks, this Shinseki guy is joined at the hip with this incompetent anti-colonialist president who has always had a disdain for our men in uniform. Now, the chickens are coming home to roost, the cracks are really showing and far-lefties like Sam's daughter are calling for a resignation? Really folks? If Sam's daughter had any guts, she would call for this president and administration to kindly do the right thing, step down and allow grown-ups to operate this once-free nation. Once that happens, I would call for full investigations into ObamaCare, ObamaDebt, Fast and Furious, Benghazi and the VeteransGate. It's time to TELL THE TRUTH AS TO WHAT THIS PRESIDENT KNEW AND WHEN DID he KNOW IT! GOOD NIGHT! Amen, Bill

DB2013
DB2013

I don't think I can ever believe or listen to a conservative or Republican period. Their track record has mainly been "lies" and "hate" the last 5+ years. I mean they even lied to themselves during the election telling everyone that Romney had the Presidency in the bag by a  landslide and then they got completely knee jerked because they completely lost.


They run under the rhetoric of "keep government out of our lives" but yet keep putting individual and personal impediments on the books that restricts citizens from their freedom from birth control to marriage or equality. If you want government out of our lives that means everyone not as you see fit for yourself.

I don't see anyone complain about the "War" that has been going on for over a decade which is one of the main reason why our country is bleeding and we create these veterans. If you want war then we need to care of our veterans. Otherwise leave them at home. That in my eyes is the most anti-American and un-Patriotic thing you can do. You can send a soldier to War for you his country but when he gets back he is doing worse then the citizens that he fought to protect. This doesn't make any type of sense.

The VA issue has been going on for decades, so you can't blame Pres. Obama.  Also keep blaming Obama for everything when the House deliberately has formed a pact to reject anything that is being proposed by Obama shows you how much they care about our country.


Republicans stated that we will live in a communist/socialist country if he will get elected. Well, it is has been over 5 years and it appears that life is good. People are shopping, buying cars and homes again. They are packing out restaurants and traveling. So there is no indication of "peril" in our country.


Maybe we should cut down all the law enforcement agencies that we have here and use that money for those that fought and protect this country

coj
coj

Someday the Republicans and Fox News will be outraged enough about our treatment of veterans that they will agree to do something about it. 


Don't bet on it, though; remember, it was less than three months ago that they again blocked the expansion of health care programs for those same veterans:

U.S. Senate Republicans blocked legislation on Thursday that would have expanded federal healthcare and education programs for veterans, saying the $24 billion bill would bust the budget.

Even though the legislation cleared a procedural vote on Tuesday by a 99-0 vote, the measure quickly got bogged down in partisan fighting. [...]

Referring to recent budget deals that aim to bring down federal deficits, Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama said: "This bill would spend more than we agreed to spend. The ink is hardly dry and here we have another bill to raise that spending again."

"Partisan fighting" means the Republican senators filibustered it.

BobEdwards
BobEdwards

This is just pure political grandstanding on her part. 

DontTread
DontTread

Add the VA to the list of federal agencies overstepping their bounds or not doing their jobs under 0bama.

coj
coj

Nothing is said of republicans cutting the VA budget when the influx of more veterans are overwhelming the system due to the the unfunded wars of the previous administration?

EdUktr
EdUktr

Might be more believable if she actually assigned blame to a White House in charge for the past 5+ years.

Astropig
Astropig

Cynical political opportunism. Her dad wouldn't have held a presser-He would have gotten things done.He would have used his prestige and no nonsense style to make things happen. He's probably cringing in embarrassment at his daughters late,weak response.

notevensurprised
notevensurprised

here they come more illegals for citizens to pay to raise, feed, and educate...its time we clamp down on the flood of illegals over-taxing our system/economies...send them back to mexico where they belong, if those looking for a better life want one they need to go back to their country and fight for it, don't come to the US and steal the better life meant for american citizens...WE DON'T HAVE ENUFF WELFARE FOR YOU, hell, we don't even have enuff welfare for the moochers. leeches, and parasitic broodmares who are citizens living in our projects in the urban areas...well i guess we just print more money until our economy super-heats and collaspes

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

I agree with Michelle Nunn, and I still support President Obama and respect all that he has done for our nation - without any Republican support and in the face of too much personal animus against him, for no valid reason.


Michelle Nunn's words are multifaceted, and reflect the quality of her mind, an excellent one.


Remove Shinseki and replace him with a more assertive mover of innovative practices in the VA.  Do not even consider offering vouchers to veterans instead of the government-run VA.  Republican leaders would try to privatize all of our nation's public institutions, if they could, thereby inserting profit into every public service "government" institution. And, and thereby continuing to create a nation in which those with the most money and power will rule. That type of government is an oligarchy, not a democratic republic.

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

Since there is little doubt the resignation is coming, administration permission for fellow Democrats to call for such has likely been given.


Kamchak
Kamchak

But...but...but...Nunn is lockstep with Obama according to many conservatives who post here at the AJC.

I wonder if any will admit that at least in this instance, they were wrong.

I doubt it.

Ralph-43
Ralph-43

@DS  Gates was dealing with active military.  Shinsecki is dealing with federal civilian workers.  Maybe Michelle Nunn should hike over to the Atlanta V.A. and admit a patient or two, help out in the walk-in clinic, get on the phone to South Georgia regarding the transfer of a bleeding veteran with cirrhosis, organize the Emergency Room - be sure to wear gloves, gown, and mask, and do not bother to take a watch.  Just get all the work done before you come home.

Baumer_1
Baumer_1

@tiz


More goes into a vote than whether you are or are not in favor of a bill.  There is this thing called politics and who knows what kind of concessions she would have been offered for a 'yes' vote.  

Vorant
Vorant

@DavidFarrar  I know the  connection, its government involvement and that's the problem. Ms. Nunn  and her ilk are a continuing problem that needs to taken seriously and defeated by any means necessary, otherwise the USA will cease to exist as the founders envisioned.

Baumer_1
Baumer_1

@DavidFarrar


There is none.

Vorant
Vorant

@LegolasMirkwood  That was then, this is now under a very hostile administration, oh sure he pays lip service in front of the cameras, but when the lights are shut off, cameras gone its venom and disdain. 

Kamchak
Kamchak

@Bill OrvisWhite 

First there was this incredible push to ram this illegal health care scheme down our throats...

I have found that those who complain the most about having something rammed down their throats, are the same ones who will swallow anything.

Astropig
Astropig

@DB2013 

" so you can't blame Pres. Obama."

Nope. He's just the head of our government. Nothing he can do. Live by the photo op,die by the photo op, I guess.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@coj 


Another excellent post.  Thank you for the facts contained within it.

Baumer_1
Baumer_1

@DontTread


Why don't you blame the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on Obama, too.  How about the crash of the financial markets as well.


You seem to have no problem blaming a president you dislike for events that precede his tenure in office, why don't you just starting making up more stuff?


You tea-tards are all the same.

Bill OrvisWhite
Bill OrvisWhite

@DontTread The BIG question I would pose to Mr. Perdue and Rep. Kingston is: would you lead the charge to set up investigative committees to hold hearings on Fast and Furious, Benghazi and VeteransGate? Do either of you have the guts to stand up to this incompetent president and "his" administration? Amen, Bill 

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@DontTread 


These problems existed well before President Obama came to office as President.  Your biases are showing.  See my more detailed post to coj, below.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@coj 


Excellent point.


Moreover, I believe that the problems not only at the VA, but in public education, prisons, and even in the U. S. State Department's being unable to offer more military support in dangerous places, such as in Libya, are the direct result of the underfunding of government programs by Republican leaders.  I will also suggest, as did Paul Krugman in Feb. of 2010, that Republican leaders in the Bush/Cheney administration deliberately raised the U. S. deficit so that they would, then, have a rational for cutting government programs, as we can see now happening.


Thank you for your perceptive post.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@EdUktr 


These problems existed well before the Obama administration and have much to do with the cutting of government funding, by Republican leaders, to improve and correct government programs.

Kamchak
Kamchak

@notevensurprised

...send them back to mexico where they belong...

Huh?

Do you realize the topic is the Veterans Administration and not immigration reform?

Since you threw out this red herring, how much are you willing to spend -- on a per head basis -- to "send them back"?

Baumer_1
Baumer_1

Maybe the GOP should and stop paying lip-service to veterans. Thor clowns are all "support the trops", American flag lapel pin wearing patriots until the bills start rolling in then they retreat to the arms of personal responsibility and benefits cuts.

Ralph-43
Ralph-43

@Baumer_1 @tiz  Time for Michelle Nunn to step up to the plate.  Does she support the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or doesn't she?  Enough with the mild mannered baloney.

DavidFarrar
DavidFarrar

@Vorant @DavidFarrar


Of course, and Baumer knows it. Anytime you have the production controlled as well as the demand, which is essentially what Obamacare does, cost will rise, while service is lowered.  Add to this structural power of the state to manipulate the record, you will get the efficiency of our public educational system, the US post office, or our VA Administration.


ex animo

davidfarrar



Ralph-43
Ralph-43

@LegolasMirkwood  I disagree. Obama has supported healthcare for all, including Veterans.  He has asked repeatedly for additional funds and broadened coverage for mental healthcare.  Take a look in the mirror.  The warmongers could not wait to invade Iraq, torture prisoners, bomb civilians, hang foreign presidents, and generally (vicariously) play wargames.  They sent good people repeatedly back to a disorganized mess of a war and have huge numbers of new Veterans with both physical and mental problems.  But, they also continuously attacked them, their government, their financial support, even their food stamps.  Shame on you.  How many wars have you been in, how many limbs have you lost, how much permanent brain damage do you have?

Astropig
Astropig

@MaryElizabethSings @EdUktr 

I agree with Mary-Every bad thing in America is the Republicans fault. The Democrats have only run the country now for about 6 years-hardly enough time to actually find out what is going on with the people that they appointed (like Gen. Shinseki) . The Dems are not to blame for anything,any where,any time. They are hapless bystanders while things go to heck./s


Mary- You're a great example of why there needs to be a change in the U.S. Senate this fall - and every week,it's looking more and more like we'll get that change.

Kamchak
Kamchak

@Astropig 

She can't even be straight about that. 

Speaking of not being straight -- still awaiting proof of your assertion, " I agree with Mary-Every bad thing in America is the Republicans fault", sport.

Just remindin'.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Astropig @MaryElizabethSings . 
"Every bad thing in America is the Republicans fault. The Democrats have only run the country now for about 6 years."  Thanks for stating this so succinctly... given that the Republicans made a pact directly after the 2008 elections to oppose the President-elect Obama on every proposal, I would say that they ARE responsible for the bad things today.  The Democrats certainly have not been allowed to run the country since 2010!


As to your comments to MaryElizabethSings here, she is generally positive on everything, though not on your own pets, the Republicans and for-profit education. And from reading you on other AJC blogs, I gather that you too are retired. You certainly post during work hours! So you too face the human condition of "old age, encroaching dementia"...as we all do. Caritas.

Astropig
Astropig

@MaryElizabethSings 

 "I just ignore him when he indulges in such pettiness,...

This is not true. She just tries to change the subject or go all negative and trash Republicans. She can't even be straight about that.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Kamchak 


Astropig likes to incite. I just ignore him when he indulges in such pettiness, Kamchak.  But, thank you.

Kamchak
Kamchak

@Astropig 

 I agree with Mary-Every bad thing in America is the Republicans fault.

You can document where she has posted exactly that, yes?

Please, show your work.

Thanks in advance, sport.

Astropig
Astropig

@MaryElizabethSings @Astropig 

As usual,you offer nothing but negativity because that's all you know. It's kind of sad that you have nothing positive in your philosophy to offer.Old age,encroaching dementia...I understand the pressures you must face,but Georgia is moving ahead with enlightened Republican leadership and mossbacks like yourself will just have to wave goodbye to an era that is passing.