POSTED: 10:06 a.m. HST, May 30, 2014
LAST UPDATED: 10:53 a.m. HST, May 30, 2014
Members of Hawaii's congressional delegation reacted to the resignation on Friday of Veterans Affairs Secretary and former Kauai resident Eric K. Shinseki.
Shinseki, 70, was driven from office by a growing scandal over the agency's health care system, and publicly apologized to veterans on Friday for the mismanagement of the veterans hospital.
Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz described Shinseki, who grew up on Kauai and graduated from Kauai High School in 1960, as "a war hero and public servant who gave everything he had to our country and the job of Secretary of Veterans Affairs."
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard added that the retired four-star general "did his best to lead a VA riddled with challenges that have existed for decades."
Sen. Mazie K. Hirono, a member of the Senate Armed Services and the Veterans' Affairs committees, also acknowledged Shinseki's patriotism and dedication to the country, and said she respected his decision to step down.
"The focus should be on delivering care to our veterans and ensuring the VA has the necessary resources to accomplish that," Hirono said in a statement.
Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, added, "I think that while he would have liked to have been the leader who fixed the problems at the VA, he also recognized that we needed a change in leadership in order to proceed effectively,"
Gabbard said she plans to introduce legislation that would give veterans immediate access to care from a doctor, either in the VA system or not.
"This is an urgent action that must be taken to begin to deal with the immediate crisis and ensure all veterans are getting the care they need," Gabbard said in a statement.
This is not the first time the former Army Chief of Staff has been forced out of office. In 2003, Shinseki took early retirement as head of the Army after he publicly disputed claims by the Bush administration that the United States could invade Iraq with a small force.