Pressure from politicians from both parties forced Veterans Affairs Secretary, Eric Shinseki, to resign Friday morning. His resignation comes two days after a scathing internal report that found broad and deep-seated problems in the sprawling healthcare system. The system provides care to about 6.5 million veterans annually.
Francis Thompson lost his eye while serving in Vietnam in the early 1960s. Now all he wants in life is to live where it’s warm. Thompson says he had trouble finding a Veterans Affairs office in Florida that would help him because he didn't have a permanent address. He was out of vital prescriptions, until he tried here. Thompson says, "And here I am trying to relocate to get to a warmer climate, finding a place to live, and was staying in motels, expensive. I had to do without until I got here." Shinseki, has resigned Friday after federal auditing showed imaginary waiting lists and pay bonuses to executives who had done nothing to help our nation’s heroes. Dave Fournell, a Vietnam veteran, says, "There’s just too many draft dodgers, hid behind momma’s apron strings, went to Canada, protested against everybody and now they’re in charge and don’t know what they’re doing."
Secretary Shinseki was a former general in the Army and fought during Vietnam, so many are troubled he knew of the scandal. Brian McDowell, the Commander of the American Legion Post 119, says, "He’s a West Point graduate, twice wounded in Vietnam. The gentleman served his military career admirably, got out, and was tasked with running one of the more troubled, larger, and underfunded organizations in the government." As the Department of Veterans Affairs is being criticized nationally, veterans on the Coast still believe the Biloxi VA is doing a good job, despite being understaffed. Thompson closes, "Just in three hours, I had an E.K.G. done, had x-rays taken, a very good physical with the doctor, prescriptions refilled, and another appointment set up."
This was the first time in six months Thompson will have all of his prescriptions. He says he hopes the new VA leaders hire more doctors to run an efficient system so people like him don't have to wait to be treated.
The Office of Healthcare Inspections released a report Friday, stating the Community Living Center in Biloxi, which is part of the Gulf Coast Veteran Healthcare System, is critically understaffed, finding a ratio of one doctor per 75 patients at the time of the evaluation. The report recommends the facility hires more physicians.
The Community Living Center (C.L.C.) issued this response: "The Gulf Coast Veterans Healthcare System leadership has reviewed the findings of the VA office of Inspector General regarding our Community Living Center. Inspections such as this give us the opportunity to improve the care we provide to our veterans. Of the five allegations that were investigated, only one, regarding the numbers of physicians on staff, was substantiated. The Gulf Coast Veterans Healthcare System is in the process of hiring additional physicians for the C.L.C."