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Hawaii's Congressional delegation reacts to Shinseki's resignation

By Gregg K. Kakesako

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.

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entrkn wrote:
Speaking as a Veteran myself, I applaud Rep. Gabbards' planned legislation to guarantee Veterans immediate access to healthcare in the VA or outside the VA if it's not immediately available in the VA. And I salute General Shenseki for his leadership and valor. I am truly sorry to see him leave his post in the VA.
on May 30,2014 | 10:17AM
dontbelieveinmyths wrote:
Isn't that what D'jou suggested?
on May 30,2014 | 10:52AM
twk123 wrote:
I like the details Gabbard goes into, and especially that she has a Plan for Action Now! As our HI veteran in office, she is on top of the immediate need to Help Our Soldiers! Sorry I know this is an issue close to many of our hearts.
on May 30,2014 | 11:25AM
TYRI wrote:
too bad he had to take the fall for the years of corruption and deficiences that overall big government system allows....for sure, the va administration has shown strides of improvement under his watch...
on May 30,2014 | 10:28AM
Anonymous wrote:
Yes it seems it would have been better for him to stay...now we will have someone either from within the VA who is corrupt or someone from outside who doesn't have a clue what's going on and will take months just to get up to speed.
on May 30,2014 | 12:30PM
4watitsworth wrote:
I agree TYRI. I was sadden to hear this news. He shouldn't be blamed for the corruption which started long before he started. He should have been given a chance to fix the problems which he did by starting to fire those in charge. Hopefully, more heads will roll. Gabbard has the right idea. If the VA cannot handle the load, allow the vets to go elsewhere.
on May 30,2014 | 03:05PM
iwanaknow wrote:
It will be interesting to see where he lands?
on May 30,2014 | 10:33AM
Skyler wrote:
Shinseki resigning saddens me because I know it won't fix the VA's woes, but I recognize that he did what he had to do. Yes, the VA needs an overhaul - but more importantly, those in the VA need to give a dam about their fellow Veterans enough to give them the care they deserve. I'm glad to hear Rep. Gabbard is working on legislation and I hope she has the full support of the House to pass it.
on May 30,2014 | 11:38AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
I hope Gabbard has success, too. So far she has sponsored only 6 bills & resolutions and had 1 passed. Here's the list:

H.Con.Res. 83: Authorizing the use of Emancipation Hall in the Capitol Visitor Center for an event to celebrate the birthday of King Kamehameha I.

H.R. 4232: Veterans Higher Education Opportunity Act

H.R. 3934: Passenger Fee Restructuring Exemptions Act of 2014

H.R. 2287: To amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 regarding Native Hawaiian education.

H.R. 1559: Rural Preventive Health Care Training Act of 2013

H.R. 1344: Helping Heroes Fly Act

Hopefully she will hook up with some legislators who have a lot more horsepower to get good changes put in place.

on May 30,2014 | 02:11PM
Anonymous wrote:
Our Congress is designed to work cooperatively to get things passed, so hopefully other legislators will see the pressing importance of this issue.
on May 30,2014 | 02:34PM
Anonymous wrote:
Our Congress is designed to work cooperatively to get things passed, so hopefully other legislators will see the pressing importance of this issue.
on May 30,2014 | 02:35PM
beachbum11 wrote:
Her answer to the problem aaas not her idea. It was spoken by Charles D. Just last week. Where was she before this became a big issue that it is today. Hopping on the wagon after the worst is done and now try's to become a hero to the vets.
on May 30,2014 | 03:06PM
kuroiwaj wrote:
Skyler, have faith. Sec. Shinseki has put into place a number of programs that are in process to be completed and increase the services for veterans. I know it will be a whole lot better than when I gained excess in 2008. I have been part of a number of the improvements.
on May 30,2014 | 03:34PM
MililaniGirl wrote:
Too bad Shinseki had to resign, he was given this mess to try and clean up. The people that work in the particular areas (VA centers in question) need to get fired as well. The VA needs to clean up their act as a whole. When I had to get my initial doctor's appointment to set up VA medical care, it took nearly 8 months for that.
on May 30,2014 | 02:40PM
kuroiwaj wrote:
Gregg, please print the truth. Sec. Shinseki did not take early retirement and served his full four years as Army Chief. Yes, his replacement was named a year before the end of his term by DoD Sec. Rumsfeld, which is not protocol and due to GEN Shinseki's and Sec. Rumsfeld's difference of opinion on peace forces in Iraq. It was interesting that GEN Shinseki, in his retirement speech, did not mention Sec. Rumsfeld's name once. If you witnessed the hearing, Sen. Warner and McCain both supported GEN Shinseki, a strong message against Sec. Rumsfeld.
on May 30,2014 | 03:18PM
thos wrote:
In all of these comments, one obvious fact has not yet surfaced: the VA gives us a clear picture of what a single payer health care system - - the kind that Obamacare was cleverly crafted to produce - - will look like.

Before you can say 'Bob's your uncle', we'll ALL be veterans.

on May 31,2014 | 12:44AM
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