Embattled and circling the drain, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki has engaged in an epic dodge. Today he announced the resignation (via Roll Call) of Department of Veterans Affairs Under Secretary for Health, Dr. Robert Petzel:
The chief health official at the Department of Veterans Affairs resigned Friday, amid an ongoing scandal about wait times and deaths within the VA health system.
“Today, I accepted the resignation of Dr. Robert Petzel, Under Secretary for Health in the Department of Veterans Affairs,” Secretary Eric Shinseki said in a statement. “As we know from the Veteran community, most Veterans are satisfied with the quality of their VA health care, but we must do more to improve timely access to that care.”
Petzel’s resignations came just a day after he accompanied Shinseki to the Hill to testify before the Senate Veterans Affairs’ Committee, with the two officials facing a barrage of questioning and skepticism about the departmental response to allegations about widespread deficiencies in the VA health system, including secret lists and deaths connected to a hospital facility in Phoenix.
“I am committed to strengthening Veterans’ trust and confidence in their VA healthcare system. I thank Dr. Petzel for his four decades of service to Veterans,” Shinseki said in his Friday statement.
The wording of the statement is carefully crafted to give the impression that the VA is actually holding someone to account for the nonstop scandals that have plagued the department under Shinseki’s maladministration. The fact is that Dr. Petzel’s retirement, not resignation, was planned. In fact, the appointment of his successor was announced by the White House on May 1 and referred to the Senate for confirmation on May 5.
This kind of dodging, evasion of accountability, and playing fast and loose with the truth is exactly what the schedulers at various VA hospital are accused of. Is it any wonder?