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Veterans Affairs secretary Eric Shinseki has taken full responsibility for the widening scandal and has apologized. Although he still hasn’t said anything about resigning himself, he does plan on meeting with President Obama today.
Shinseki spoke at the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans in Washington on Friday, apologizing to lawmakers and veterans, following the preliminary report by the Veterans Affairs inspector general that confirmed the Phoenix VA hospital had falsified wait times for veterans’ health care. Other VA hospitals have engaged in similar actions, faking wait list times to make them appear shorter, when in fact some veterans would have to wait months for treatment.
“After Wednesday’s release of an interim inspector general report, we now know that V.A. has a systemic, totally unacceptable lack of integrity within some of our veterans’ health facilities,” Shinseki said Friday, notes The New York Times. He added that he could not defend the lack of integrity, calling it “unacceptable.”
“I extend an apology to the people whom I care most deeply about — that’s the veterans of this great country, to their families and loved ones, who I have been honored to serve,” Shinseki continued.
According to the Washington Post, Shinseki also asked Congress to give him “greater authority to remove senior leaders” and asked for support to fill vacant VA positions. It can be fixed, he said of the situation, adding, “We can do this in the days ahead, just as we have done for the past five years with veterans’ homelessness.”
Shinseki and Obama will meet at 10:15 a.m. today. Obama told Live! With Kelly and Michael Thursday that they will have a “serious conversation” about the scandal. Those comments were aired Friday on Good Morning America.
UPDATE Shinseki has resigned.