Arlington, Va. – Following further revelations of appalling malfeasance at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities across the country, the announcement late Wednesday of the resignation of two senior VA officials was applauded by Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) as a welcome first step toward the real accountability and cultural change needed to bring an end to this shameful chapter in the agency’s history.
According to a report published in the New York Times on June 26, Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson accepted the resignations of Dr. Robert L. Jesse, the acting under secretary for health, and Will A. Gunn, the department’s general counsel, for their roles in ignoring – and then covering up – systemic failures at VA clinics across the nation that contributed to the deaths of dozens, if not hundreds of veterans.
While it is necessary for these officials to leave the VA, resignations cannot be considered a true step towards reform. Top leadership is still unable to fire employees who are not performing, as is particularly evident in the case of Phoenix VA Health Care Systems Director Sharon Helman. Despite being in charge of the clinic where at least 40 veterans died waiting for care, she is still on the VA’s payroll, collecting a hefty salary at the taxpayers’ expense.
“Forced resignations are step one; criminal prosecutions should be step two,” said Pete Hegseth, CEO of Concerned Veterans of America. “While we are glad to hear that Acting Secretary Gibson is finally relieving these two top officials of their duties, it will not stop there. The Justice Department must now follow through with criminal prosecutions against any official whose negligence or ineptitude led to the preventable deaths of veterans awaiting basic care at VA clinics nationwide. True accountability is not just a buzzword. It means that there must be real, legal consequences for leading the kind of twisted bureaucratic culture that puts performance bonuses, or even jobs, above the care and lives of those who defend the freedoms we all enjoy.”
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Concerned Veterans for America is a non-partisan, non-profit, 501(c)(4) organization that advocates for policies that will preserve the freedom and liberty we and our families so proudly fought and sacrificed to defend.