Shinseki resigns amid veterans' health care issues
WASHINGTON - Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki has resigned amid widespread troubles in the VA health care system.
President Barack Obama says he accepted the resignation with "considerable regret." He and Shinseki met in the Oval Office Friday morning.
Shinseki had faced mounting calls to step down from lawmakers in both parties.
Shinseki's resignation comes two days after a scathing internal report found broad and deep-seated problems in the sprawling health care system. The system provides care to about 6.5 million veterans annually.
Shinseki is a retired four-star Army general who had overseen the VA since the start of Obama's presidency.
The secretary apologized in a speech, taking responsibility for the scandal in the health care system. He called the problems systemic, rather than isolated, and said he had been too trusting of some top officials.
Before stepping down, Shinseki started the process of removing top officials at the VA hospital in Phoenix, the epicenter of the scandal. Deputy Secretary of the VA, Sloan Gibson, is the new interim secretary.
Veterans and veteran groups across the Hudson Valley are weighing in on the scandal. Vietnam veteran Larry Petriccone says he doesn't believe the shakeup will do anything to change the culture at the VA hospitals in Montrose, Castle Point and across the entire system.
Petriccone also mentions that he thinks Shinseki is a scapegoat. "I don't believe he knew everything that had to be known," he said.
Rick Burns, president of the Westchester chapter of the Vietnam Veterans, is hoping the shake-up will actually benefit the veterans as opposed to rewarding the bureaucratic VA administrators who trim their budgets on the backs of vets.
Veterans say they don't expect the problems to get solved overnight, but they insist they'll no longer accept them being swept under the rug.
AP wires contributed to this report.