TIME Veterans

Top Veterans Affairs Official Resigns

VA Secretary Shinseki Testifies Before Senate On State Of VA Health Care
U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and Veterans Affairs Undersecretary for Health Robert Petzel testify before the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee about wait times veterans face to get medical care May 15, 2014 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images

The Department's Undersecretary for Health Robert Petzel steps down amid scandal involving an alleged cover up of long wait times for patients

Amid a scandal over delays in care for veterans and forged records at veterans’ hospitals, the top official for veterans’ health care resigned on Friday.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki accepted the resignation of Robert Petzel, the department’s undersecretary for health care. Shinseki asked for the resignation, the Associated Press reports, quoting an anonymous source. Petzel was already set to retire this year. The resignation comes one day after Shinseki and Petzel came under fire during a four-hour hearing of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, in which senators said they were enraged by the problems plaguing the department, including long waits for appointments, a backlog of benefit applications and reports of unnecessary deaths.

“As the President has said, America has a sacred trust with the men and women who have served our country in uniform, and he is committed to doing all we can to ensure our veterans have access to timely, quality health care,” the White House said in a statement provided to TIME. “He has asked Secretary Shinseki to conduct a review of Veterans Health Administration practices and procedures at its facilities nationwide to ensure better access to care, and that review is ongoing.”

“If these allegations are true people should be going to jail, not just resigning their positions,” Senator John McCain said on Fox News Thursday Night. He added that the Justice Department will likely conduct a criminal investigation.

[AP]

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