Members of the South Carolina Congressional Delegation are calling for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to be removed from his position following the unveiling of several scandals, of which Shinseki sits at the forefront.
U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., and U.S. Rep. Tom Rice, R-S.C., have joined others in the initiative by sending letters to President Barack Obama.
The letters are based off an interim report released by the VA's Office of Inspector General on Wednesday. The report determined that Department of Veterans Affairs officials falsified records to hide the amount of time former service members had to wait for medical appointments, and it explored allegations of secret waiting lists at the VA hospital in Phoenix, Arizona.
In a letter to Obama, Wilson said the administration's inability to provide services to veterans is inexcusable.
“The only way to move forward is to appoint a new Secretary in hopes of restoring faith to our veterans, military families and the American people,” Wilson wrote. “I support American Legion Commander Dan Dellinger's call for the resignation of Secretary Shinseki.”
In a separate letter written on May 12, Rice cosigned the effort with several other members of the House.
The letter states several unfortunate incidents were a result of Shinseki's actions, including patient deaths, delayed treatments, canceled appointments and cost overruns.
“We expect more from the public servants assigned to oversee the care of our veterans,” the letter states. “It is unconscionable that our nation's heroes have lost their lives due to negligence within the agency tasked with serving and protecting them. Our veterans deserve better.”
The report also states that 1,700 veterans in Phoenix need to see doctors but are not on an official waiting list. In addition, 1,138 veterans were waiting longer than six months to get an appointment. The doctor who allegedly sounded the alarm which prompted the report said 40 veterans died due to delays.
U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C. added in a separate statement that Obama must also call for Shinseki's removal and name a new secretary.
“I believe that after Secretary Shinseki's departure, President Obama must work with those of us who care passionately about the men and women who have worn our nation's uniform,” Scott wrote.
Nearly 50 congressmen have called for Shinseki to step down or for Obama to take action as the situation hangs in the balance.
Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard. He joined the paper in June. He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and a graduate of Georgia Southern University. Follow him on Twitter @DerrekAsberry.
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