A top official at the Department of Veterans Affairs has resigned amid the growing scandal about wait times and care at veterans’ hospitals, the department’s leader said Friday.
News about the resignation of Dr. Robert Petzel, undersecretary for health in the Department of Veterans Affairs, came one day after he spoke at a Senate hearing about the issue alongside Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki.
In a short statement, Shinseki announced that he accepted Petzel’s resignation.
“As we know from the veteran community, most veterans are satisfied with the quality of their VA health care, but we must do more to improve timely access to that care,” Shinseki said. “I am committed to strengthening veterans’ trust and confidence in their VA healthcare system.”
Petzel was scheduled to retire sometime this year, the department said in 2013.
The news of the resignation was met with derision by a leading veterans’ rights group, which said Petzel’s resignation does little to address the problem.
“We don’t need the VA to find a scapegoat; we need an actual plan to restore a culture of accountability throughout the VA,” according to a statement released by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
“To be clear, Dr. Petzel’s resignation is not the step toward accountability that our members need to see from VA leaders. Anyone who has been following this situation knows that Dr. Petzel had already announced his retirement earlier this year.”
The chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Republican Jeff Miller of Florida, called the resignation as “the pinnacle of disingenuous doublespeak.”
But President Barack Obama supported Shinseki’s decision to accept the resignation, according to a statement released by the White House.
SOURCE: Chelsea J. Carter, Greg Seaby and Greg Botelho