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Tim Vandenack
Tim Vandenack
In Indiana Buzz, reporter Tim Vandenack blogs on politics, immigration, elections, taxes, errant geese and more.



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Walorski, Donnelly say Shinseki's resignation is only the first step in VA reform

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs head stepped down amid increased criticism over VA provision of health care to veterans.

Posted on May 30, 2014 at 4:44 p.m.

Friday May 30, 2014

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki has resigned, but as U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski sees it, that doesn’t mean the scrutiny of the department should come to an end.

"This is the beginning of a long process," Walorski, a Republican, said in a phone interview Friday, May 30. One of the next steps, she thinks, should be a criminal investigation into apparent corruption in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, maybe by an outside investigator.

She also favors an investigation into each and every VA clinic and hospital across the country, notwithstanding her understanding that Indiana facilities don’t face the same sorts of problems that others do.

The VA has come under heightened scrutiny as of late stemming from reports that veterans seeking attention at VA health care facilities around the country faced long delays. A report Wednesday by the VA inspector general found officials at a Phoenix, Ariz., facility actually took steps to conceal long delays in care. That spurred outrage among many, precipitating Shinseki’s resignation Friday.

Walorski, who sparred Wednesday at a hearing with three VA reps, wasn’t the only one to sound off on the matter, though she’s been vociferous on the issue and called for Shinseki’s resignation over the matter on May 5.

DONNELLY: 'VETERANS DESERVE BETTER’

Sen. Joe Donnelly issued a press release echoing Walorski’s contention that more action will be needed.

“It is time for a fresh pair of eyes on this calamity,” Donnelly, a Democrat, said in a statement. “Veterans deserve better than the bureaucratic nightmare they have faced in Phoenix and, from what we are learning, in other facilities.”

He went on, saying Shinseki’s “resignation alone will not solve this problem, because this isn’t just about one man — it is about a culture change.”

BOCK, PETERMANN SOUND OFF

Walorski’s foes in the November general election also sounded off.

Democrat challenger Joe Bock, of South Bend, issued a statement late Thursday afternoon calling on Shinseki to step down.

“We must give veterans the respect and dignity they deserve by taking action when such egregious problems have been identified,” Bock said in a statement. “There is much more to be done in order to meet the challenges the VA is facing, but a change in leadership is the first step that must be taken.”

Libertarian Jeff Petermann went further, expressing concern that Shinseki will be made a “scapegoat” for the situation and casting aspersions on President Obama.

“The firing of Shinseki will allow our president to continue his 'mad as hell’ comments, all the while disavowing any knowledge about the topic at hand,” Petermann said in a statement. “Benghazi, Obamacare website rollout, VA scandal…all of these situations involved what I feel is, at the very least, an incompetent president, but could also quite literally be a complicit president and a cabinet willing to fall on the sword to protect their fearless leader from having any real accountability.”

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