Coffman: VA Secretary Shinseki should resign

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Congressman Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, during an Armed Services Committee Hearing in 2012.

Congressman Mike Coffman called Monday for Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign his position over recent allegations that veterans died waiting for care in Phoenix and other cost overruns plaguing VA Hospital projects, including one in Aurora.

“Secretary Shinseki has failed to provide any leadership for this organization and instead he has allowed himself to be led by a circle of incompetent and corrupt bureaucrats who have long forgotten that they are there for the sole purpose of serving those who have sacrificed so much on behalf of this nation,” said Coffman, a Marine Corps combat veteran.

“If he had these same responsibilities as an Army officer he would have been relieved a long time ago for his lack of leadership. If he fails to resign then the President, as the Commander-in-Chief, has a duty to fire him for gross incompetence.

“Secretary Shinseki was an Army infantry officer and the motto for Army infantry is lead, follow or get out of the way. It’s time for him to get out of the way.”

Coffman’s statement follows a call earlier Monday from the American Legion for Shinseki to resign.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars, however, declined to echo that call; and Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, the most heralded veteran serving in Congress, said an investigation into the problems within the VA should proceed before Shinseki is forced to resign.

The White House, meanwhile, defended Shinseki.

“As the President said last week, we take the allegations around the Phoenix situation very seriously,” said Shin Inouye, a White House spokesman. “That’s why he immediately directed Secretary Shinseki to investigate, and Secretary Shinseki has also invited the independent Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General to conduct a comprehensive review.

“We must ensure that our nation’s veterans get the benefits and services that they deserve and have earned. The President remains confident in Secretary Shinseki’s ability to lead the Department and to take appropriate action based on the IG’s findings.”