With patient delay scandal, Himes calls for U.S. Veterans Affairs secretary to step down

Congressman Jim Himes, whose district includes most of Shelton, has called on U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to step down from his position.

“It is in the best interest of those who have put their lives on the line in defense of our nation for Secretary Shinseki to stand aside so new leadership can right these wrongs,” Himes said on late Thursday, responding to the growing scandal involving delayed patient care at Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals around the nation.

Himes is the latest Democrat to join many Republican and some Democratic members of Congress in calling for the resignation of Shinseki.

“I am outraged by reports of delayed care and falsified records at VA facilities in Arizona,” Himes said. “I am equally appalled that dozens of other VA clinics are now under investigation for the same. Anyone at the VA who participated in or was aware of this gross mismanagement must be held accountable, without exception.”

Inspector general’s report released

Himes’ statement follows the release of the VA inspector general’s preliminary report, which stated at least 1,700 veterans were never scheduled for an appointment or placed on a wait list at the VA medical center in Phoenix, and that 42 VA medical centers across the country are also now under investigation.

“Secretary Shinseki is a great American who has served his country well , and I have tremendous respect for his service abroad and here at home — but when something goes wrong, the commander is responsible,” Himes said.

Shinseki is a veteran of the Vietnam War, where he was seriously injured. Much later in his military career, he served as the U.S. Army’s chief of staff.

“It is important to remember, however, that Secretary Shinseki did not create these problems, and we must mobilize the resources and the willpower necessary to fix them now,” Himes said. “It is absolutely crucial we ensure that our veterans get their full and timely care and benefits, and I will accept no less for them.”

Wants VA audits in CT made public

Himes has joined the rest of the Connecticut delegation in urging Shinseki to make public the findings from audits of Connecticut’s VA clinics to ensure Connecticut veterans are receiving timely care. Himes said he also has voted for legislation to make it easier to punish those responsible.

Himes is a third-term Democrat from Greenwich who represents the Fourth Congressional District, which covers most of Fairfield County. He is seeking re-election this fall.