Indiana delegation looks to new leadership to fix VA issues


By Lesley Weidenbener

INDIANAPOLIS – Hoosier lawmakers said Friday they look forward to new veterans affairs leadership after Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned under pressure over problems involving cover ups and wait times for care at government-run hospitals.

But lawmakers said the resignation doesn’t solve the VA’s problems.

“Congress and the American people must not lose sight of the work the still lies ahead,” U.S. Rep. Todd Young, R-9th District, said in a statement.

“The problems that have recently come to light in Phoenix and elsewhere only serve to underscore what most of us already suspected was true: The level of care our country provides to our veterans is not commensurate with the sacrifices they’ve made on behalf of their country,” Young said. “The resignation of one man does not change the fact that we must make bold reforms to address these serious problems.”

U.S. Rep. Andre Carson, D-7th District, called Shinseki’s service “honorable” but said a change was necessary.

“We need to clear the air and move toward long-term solutions to the systemic problems within the VA that have resulted in substandard service for the men and women who have served our country in uniform,” Carson said in a statement.

Carson was among several Indiana lawmakers who acted quickly Friday to commend Shinseki’s lifelong service.

But a number of House and Senate members had also been calling for his resignation, a chorus that had been growing since an interim report found the VA’s problems are systemic, rather than isolated at a hospital in Phoenix where they were first discovered.

Indiana Rep. Susan Brooks, R-5th District, called for Shinseki’s resignation last week.

“Fixing the current systemic problems within the Department of Veterans Affairs clearly requires new leadership with in-depth health care system experience,” Brooks said. “The next secretary must comprehensively retool the VA’s health care system to ensure veterans receive the quality treatment they deserve.”

President Barack Obama, who accepted Shinseki’s resignation Friday, said that Sloan Gibson, the agency’s deputy secretary, will take over until a permanent replacement is named.

U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana, said he’s pleased to have a “fresh pair of eyes on this calamity.”

“This isn’t just about one man — it is about a culture change. We need to hold accountable those who were carrying out or encouraging these practices day to day, and we must ensure that the VA health system provides the responsiveness and quality care our veterans deserve,” Donnelly said.

U.S. Sen. Dan Coats, R-Indiana, said he supports continued investigations into the VA issues.

“The culture of the VA must change, and we need to look at solutions outside of government-run facilities,” Coats said. “My focus remains on ensuring Hoosier veterans receive the care they not only earned, but deserve.” is a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.