Pat Buchanan to Newsmax: VA Needs 'Complete Overhaul'

Friday, 30 May 2014 05:14 PM

By Todd Beamon

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Former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan praised Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki but said that the agency the retired four-star general directed needed a "complete overhaul" after reports of falsified waiting times at VA centers nationwide.

Buchanan called Shinseki, who resigned Friday, "a brave soldier and honorable man" in an email statement to Newsmax. The conservative columnist served the Nixon, Ford, and Reagan administrations and ran for the White House three times.

"But the VA's inspector's report that veterans who put everything on the line for our country were denied medical care for weeks and months, that some died, and then bureaucrats covered up their criminal neglect — and it has been going on for years — mandated his resignation," Buchanan said.

Shinseki stepped down after a tumultuous week in which the VA inspector general found widespread problems in its vast hospital system and reported that 1,700 veterans seeking treatment at a Phoenix VA center were consigned to uncertainty because they had never been added to official wait lists.

President Barack Obama said he accepted Shinseki's resignation "with considerable regret," naming Sloan Gibson, the agency's No. 2 official, as temporary secretary.

The president said the Justice Department would determine if any illegality had occurred, and that a top White House aide who had been assigned to investigate the VA would remain there for the time being.

More than 100 members of Congress from both parties had called for Shinseki, a Vietnam veteran and former Army chief of staff, to resign.

But Shinseki's departure is not enough to reform the VA system, Buchanan told Newsmax.

"The question here is whether parts of the VA system, and some hospitals, are steeped in this immorality and corruption, or whether the systemic problem is so broad, the system needs a complete overhaul," he said. "If we were starting from ground zero to provide medical care to veterans, no one would build the VA system we now have."

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