19 December 2014

VA Scandal: Twelve Key Quotes From This Year of Turmoil

by Jerry Shaw, Newsmax

The inadequate treatment of veterans under the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs angered Americans across the country. Here are 12 quotes from officials and observers on this scandal that has embroiled President Barack Obama's administration.

“I will not stand for it. There must be consequences.” 
– President Barack Obama vowed following revelations of the VA scandal in May.

“When a veteran is denied health care, we are all dishonored.” When 400,000 veterans are stuck on a waiting list for claims, we need a new sense of urgency in this country.”
– Presidential candidate and then-Sen. Barack Obama, 2007. 

“Under his watch at my own hospital in Atlanta, four of our soldiers committed suicide, and the inspector general of the VA laid the blame directly at the foot of the VA administration.”
– U.S. Rep. David Scott, a Georgia Democrat, demanding the firing of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki

“Firing Shinseki would suggest he (Obama) was actually taking responsibility, rather than just talking about taking responsibility.” 
 John Kass, Chicago Tribune columnist, on the Barack Obama scandal.

The VA is “socialized medicine that works.” 
– Paul Krugman, New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize winner for economics, 2011

The VA represented a single-payer system that offers “better care for more people at far less cost.” 
– Physicians for a National Health Program, 2013

“I am pleased President Obama has finally recognized what we have been telling administration officials for years: that VA’s widespread and systemic lack of accountability is jeopardizing the health of veterans and contributing to all of the department’s most pressing problems.”
– U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, a Florida Republican and chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, after Obama signed a $17 billion bill to address some of the VA problems. Miller said he hoped it wasn’t just a photo-op.

“If you engage in an unethical practice, if you cover up a serious problem, you should be fired period. It shouldn't be that difficult. And, if you blow the whistle on an unethical practice or bring a problem to the attention of higher-ups, you should be thanked.”
– President Obama, at the signing of the VA bill

“We are expecting (new VA secretary Robert McDonald) to hold his senior leaders accountable. And in turn, that will roll downhill and his senior leaders will then hold midlevel managers accountable who will then hold employees accountable.”
– Louis Celli, legislative director at the American Legion

“Congress will be tempted to wipe their hands of this, go to the Election Day and say ‘we've done our part’ and that’s where groups like ours, Concerned Veterans for America, veterans across the country have to keep the heat on them to say this is just the start. VA is not fixed.”
Pete Hegseth, CEO of Concerned Veterans for America

“This has been building for 10 or 15 years. Every crisis is also an opportunity. Fixes are available at the VA, and this is the time to put them in place.”
– Phillip E. Carter, expert on veterans' affairs at Center for a New American Security

“The president just promised $5 billion for terrorists around the world! At West Point! Where he could have used today to say, ‘I’m sorry! For the pain that I’ve caused you, the families! And I’m going to fix it today!’”
– Montel Williams, talk show host and 22-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and Navy 

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