In an interview with reporters on May 23, Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald was asked to explain the lack of transparency surrounding the long wait times some veterans have to endure before they receive any aid.
“What really counts is how does the veteran feel about their encounter with the VA. When you go to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line? Or what’s important? What’s important is what’s your satisfaction with the experience,” he said.
This response from the VA Secretary was not well received by members of Congress or by veterans. House Speaker Paul Ryan tweeted the following.
This is not make-believe, Mr. Secretary. Veterans have died waiting in those lines. https://t.co/OxfT3AYzTi
— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) 23 May 2016
There is one person on Capitol Hill who is both a politician and a combat veteran, Senator Joni Ernst (R-IW). Ernst blasted McDonald for his insensitive view on providing veterans aid.
“Any government agency or organization takes on the attitude of their leadership, and Secretary McDonald has been too willing to look the other way. We simply cannot allow the misconduct and poor care to continue without repercussions. That’s why today, I am calling for Secretary McDonald’s resignation immediately,” Ernst said in a statement.
McDonald made efforts to apologize on Tuesday, but made no mention of resigning his position as VA Secretary.
“If my comments Monday led any veterans to believe that I, or the dedicated workforce I am privileged to lead, don’t take that noble mission seriously, I deeply regret that,” he said. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
As of the beginning of May, the average veteran wait time for aid was seven days, but in some parts of the country, wait times were as long as 18 to 19 days.
[RT] [The Hill]