Arkansas lawmakers are speaking out after a scandal involving sometimes fatal delays at Veterans Affairs hospitals led to national VA Secretary Eric Shinseki’s resignation.
Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor and Republican Rep. Tom Cotton said it was time for change at the top.
“Secretary Shinseki needed to resign. I told him to resign over a week ago,” Cotton said.
“I cannot say I was surprised on a personal note,” Pryor said. “I hate to see Gen. Shinseki leave this way, because he’s been such a great warrior and veteran and advocate. But sometimes it’s just time to go.”
The two agreed high quality health care for veterans is a priority.
“Both VA’s believe they are in good shape, that they don’t have this problem here in Arkansas. Which is great,” Pryor said.
“That’s not what our veterans deserve. That’s not the kind of care we should be giving them,” Cotton said.
5NEWS asked if similar problems occurred in Arkansas VA hospitals, and whether VA hospitals nationally can come back from the scandal.
“In our consultations with the VAs in Arkansas, it does not appear that these kind of off the books waiting lists were kept or that there was any potential criminal wrong doing,” Cotton said. “But our team is certainly going to be working closely with the VA system to make sure veterans get the absolute care they can in the VA system.”
“It’s a big concern,” Pryor said. “But I think the answer is it can be fixed. It has to be fixed. We don’t have an option. We owe this to our veterans.”
Cotton is attempting to unseat Pryor in the November election for U.S. Senator from Arkansas, which is less than six months away.