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Brooks: VA Secretary Shinseki Resignation Good First Step, More Needed to Improve Veterans' Health Care

May 30, 2014
Press Release

Washington, D.C.– Today Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) released the following statement about the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.  

Congressman Brooks said, “While many Veterans Affairs (VA) employees work tirelessly for our veterans, the repeated VA policy failures coupled with deceptive representations of VA performance make it clear decisive action must be taken to redirect the VA culture and practices.  Secretary Shinseki, as the VA’s “CEO”, is ultimately responsible for VA failures and misrepresentations.  As such, Shinseki’s resignation is appropriate and welcome.  Holding the VA leadership responsible for unsatisfactory and deceptive service forces others in the VA system to sit up, take notice, and improve health care for America’s veterans . . . or risk losing their jobs.”

Brooks added, “From 2009 to 2014, Democrats and Republicans in Congress have increased VA funding by 154% while VA enrollees have increased by only 16%. This huge gap in funding increases versus services demanded reflects Congress’s commitment to properly treat veteran health care needs.  The VA’s problems have not been caused by inadequate funding.  They have been caused by inferior executive leadership that mismanages funds appropriated for veterans’ health care.  Congress does not hire or fire VA employees.  Congress does not and cannot micromanage day to day operations of Executive Branch agencies.  Day to day management of the Veterans Administration is ultimately the White House’s responsibility.  The House-passed VA Management Accountability Act,which is pending Senate action, offers some relief by holding VA leadership accountable for work that is not done, or done unsatisfactorily.  The Senate should quickly pass, and the President quickly sign, this much-needed legislation.”

Brooks continued, “America’s veterans depend on an efficient and reliable VA.  New VA leadership must instill new policies and morale, end mismanagement of resources, and restructure this heavily bureaucratic institution, so our soldiers are provided with the timely, quality care they have earned.”

Brooks concluded, “I hope the President will appoint a retired veteran as the new Veterans Affairs Secretary and that the new VA Secretary will, in turn, hire veterans whenever possible to tend to veterans’ health care needs.  I believe the best way to improve veterans’ health care is if veterans provide it.  Veterans helping veterans.  Brothers and sisters in arms helping brothers and sisters in arms.  That is the way to go.”