U.S. News


Veterans Group: Resigning VA Official Is A 'Scapegoat'

Critics point out outgoing VA Undersecretary for Health Dr. Robert Petzel already announced plans to retire.
Posted at 8:42 AM, May 17, 2014

In the wake of the growing medical center scandal, Veterans Affairs Department Secretary Eric Shinseki announced he’d accepted the resignation of VA Undersecretary for Health Dr. Robert Petzel. (Via Flickr / Secretary of Defense, KFSM) 

But that did little to appease the critics, including leading veterans’ rights groups, who have pointed out Petzel already announced his plans to retire eight months ago.

A statement released by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America says Petzel's resignation isn't good enough. "We don't need the VA to find a scapegoat; we need an actual plan to restore a culture of accountability throughout the VA." 

This comes amid reports at least one VA hospital cooked the books. A whistleblower revealed last month VA officials falsified waiting lists, and as many as 40 veterans died while waiting for care at the department’s medical center in Phoenix. This, on top of a backlog of disability claims at VA. (Via CBS, KNXV)

At a recent Congressional hearing, Shinseki said he was angry over the allegations but resisted calls to step down.

“Any adverse incident like this makes me mad as hell.” (Via CNN) 

This, despite the largest veterans group in the country — The American Legion — asking for his resignation letter. (Via The New York Times) 

And a growing chorus of lawmakers on Capitol Hill, led mostly by Republicans, demanding greater accountability. (Via Euronews) 

A senior VA official told Fox News Petzel will stay in his position until the Senate confirms his replacement — a process that could take months.

According to The Wall Street Journal, An inspector general’s investigation into the scandal so far has found no evidence linking the patient deaths in Phoenix to the long wait times.