The head of the nation’s largest veterans service group is calling on Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign following scandalous reports that delays at VA hospitals led to the deaths of dozens of patients.
"As national commander of the nation’s largest veterans service organization, it is with great sadness that I call for the resignations of Secretary Shinseki, Under Secretary of Health Robert Petzel, and Under Secretary of Benefits Allison Hickey," American Legion Commander Daniel Dellinger said at a press conference Monday.
"Gen. Eric Shinseki has served his country well," Dellinger continued. "His patriotism and sacrifice for this nation are above reproach. However, his record as the head of the Department of Veterans Affairs tells a different story. The existing leadership has exhibited a pattern of bureaucratic incompetence and failed leadership that has been amplified in recent weeks."
News investigations and whistleblowers have revealed that 40 veterans died while waiting for treatment at one Phoenix VA hospital alone. Whistleblowers say the hospital used a secret list to hide the long wait times from officials in Washington.
On Monday, an internal investigation found a similar practice at a Colorado VA hospital.
Shinseki placed the director of the Phoenix hospital on administrative leave last Thursday, following reports that the hospital was destroying evidence related to he scandal.
After news reports in December first began revealing patient deaths, the VA released documents in April showing 23 patients across the country died from delayed gastrointestinal cancer screenings.
The full number of patients who have died in recent years while awaiting treatment at VA hospitals is unknown.