Following a public apology for systemic problems plaguing the Veterans Affairs health care system, the department's secretary, Eric Shinseki resigned, a decision that provided mixed reactions from veterans who use the VA Hospital in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx. NY1's Erin Clarke filed the following report.
Shortly after former Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki announced that several senior leaders at the Phoenix VA Hospital would be fired, the department's top officer himself stepped down, and it didn't take long for word to spread that Shinseki resigned following revelations of long wait times and falsified records at several VA hospitals throughout the country.
Veterans leaving the VA Hospital in Kingsbridge had mixed opinions.
"I was very, very surprised," said one.
"It couldn't have come fast enough," said veteran James Waddell.
"I feel that he shouldn't have stepped down," said veteran Anthony Williams.
Those siding with Shinseki pointed to his record, noting improvements in the Veterans Affairs during his tenure.
"You got vet centers all over. You got the VA Hospital. It's a lot of job incentives, and it's a lot of things that's going on to help vets get jobs, housing," Williams said.
In fact, Shinseki is recognized for helping reduce veteran homelessness by nearly 25 percent and helping vets and their families pursue an education.
Though he left his post, elected officials said the general is and will remain highly regarded.
"In keeping with General Shinseki's stellar character, he offered his resignation because he realized, as every good soldier does, that the buck stops at the top," said Sen. Charles Schumer.
Shinseki agreed that the government needs transparency and that the systemic problems need to be fixed. Vets NY1 spoke with said those problems are no surprise.
"You're always in the background," Waddell said. "There's a military expression called 'hurry up and wait,' and what that means is, you have to make an appointment, but when you get there, you know that you're going to have to wait four hours, five hours, six hours, and that's just systemic in the military, period, while you're in and when you get out."
They added that at the VA Hospital in the Bronx, service is wonderful.
"I never had no problems," said one veteran.
"My experiences here has been awesome," Waddell said.
"The treatment I get at the Bronx VA Hospital is exceptionally well," another veteran said.
They said all veterans should benefit from that same type of service and hope that a change of guard and a thorough investigation will lead to a better-run Department of Veterans Affairs.