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3 Hoosier lawmakers want VA leaders out

Coats
Donnelly

Three members of Indiana’s congressional delegation called Monday for the removal of leaders at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Reps. Jackie Walorski, Todd Rokita and Susan Brooks were among 16 Republicans in the House who signed a letter to President Barack Obama urging the immediate resignations of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and Undersecretaries Robert Petzel and Allison Hickey.

“Recent revelations about avoidable patient deaths, delayed treatments, falsified records, secret waiting lists, and cancelled appointments, coupled with systemic IT security failures, project cost overruns, and a backlog that has more than doubled since 2009, clearly demonstrate widespread incompetence and a lack of transparency within the Department of Veterans Affairs,” the letter stated.

Walorski is a member of the House VA Committee, which is investigating reported lapses by the agency. The South Bend-area legislator said in a statement, “There is no excuse for the botched care of America’s 23 million veterans.”

Also Monday, Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., released a statement saying that “sweeping changes must be made at this agency” in the wake of reports that as many as 40 patients died waiting for treatment from the Phoenix VA Health Care System.

“While resignations from top leadership may be necessary, the real problem facing the VA is a culture of mismanagement and indifference to the needs of veterans,” said Coats, an Army veteran.

Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., said last week and again Monday that he wants more information on the Phoenix reports.

He said Monday that he supports prompt investigations, including the one launched by the House VA Committee.

“A proper investigation will tell us who is responsible for this calamity and, therefore, who should lose their jobs,” Donnelly said in a statement.

On May 5, the American Legion, the nation’s largest veterans organization, demanded the resignations of Shinseki, Petzel and Hickey.

bfrancisco@jg.net

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