Top White House aide takes on Veterans Affairs review
President Barack Obama talks with Rob Nabors in the Oval Office, Dec. 22, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
May 14th, 2014
11:42 PM ET
6 months ago

Top White House aide takes on Veterans Affairs review

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(CNN) – A top aide to President Barack Obama will assist officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs conduct a review of agency procedures after accusations of deadly delays in care at some hospitals.

Obama said he had tasked Rob Nabors, his deputy chief of staff, to assist VA leaders, including Secretary Eric Shinseki, in conducting their audit of clinics nationwide.

"America has a sacred trust with the men and women who serve our country in uniform - one that continues when they come home - and we must do everything to keep that trust," Obama said in a statement Wednesday, adding it was essential "we get to the bottom of what happened" at a VA hospital in Phoenix, where some veterans died while waiting for care.

"I'm grateful that Rob, one of my most trusted advisers, has agreed to work with Shinseki to help the team at this important moment," Obama said.

The VA problems have unfolded over the past weeks into a full-blown scandal for the agency, which is responsible for providing medical care for men and women who served in the armed forces.

Since November, CNN has uncovered delays in care at VA facilities across the country where numerous VA staffers have stepped forward to allege dangerously long wait times and efforts by VA officials to cover them up.

The VA has previously admitted that 23 veterans passed away because of delays, and 53 others had adverse health effects at VA facilities across the country.

In the wake of CNN's reporting, Shinseki announced a nationwide review of wait times and access to care for veterans. He's also asked the VA inspector general to conduct an independent review of clinic delays in Phoenix.

Some veterans groups, including the American Legion, have called for Shinseki's resignation, though the White House has said Obama maintains full confidence in the West Point graduate's ability to lead the agency.

Shinseki said on Wednesday, "I welcome Rob's perspective in helping us to ensure veterans have access to timely quality health care."

Nabors is a longtime aide to Obama, previously serving as legislative affairs director and deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. A White House official noted on Wednesday he's also the son of an Army veteran.

The move echoes Obama's decision in the wake of last fall's healthcare.gov debacle to appoint a top adviser to help troubleshoot the flawed website. Jeff Zients, then Obama's choice to lead the National Economic Council, led a team that ultimately fixed the website and surpassed enrollment expectations.

soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. ThinkAgain - Don't like Congress? Get rid of the repub/tea bag majority.

    Epson America makes scanners, right? Buy a boat load of them, hire the necessary people to do the work, and start converting all the paper records into electronic ones. We've also got a lot of talented American software engineers who can design a system to track and process the information so we can get caught up and eliminate the backlog.

    Get some smart practices in place and MAKE THIS HAPPEN!

    Yes we can, YES WE CAN!

    May 15, 2014 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  2. orrball

    Where have we heard this before [ we will get to the bottom of this ] another joke we are still waiting for the other bottoms to come out?

    May 15, 2014 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  3. golack

    It would be interesting to see how many veterans ask to have their appointment rescheduled–and compare their rate to rates at other hospital chains. You don't even need a secret list for that to happen...

    May 15, 2014 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  4. Thomas

    Do it right , we need to gave are vets the best !

    May 15, 2014 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  5. @RI_Roger

    America has NO sacred trust that this administration could investigate anything they are involved in fairly and impartially. For example, the IRS scandal is escalating again due to non disclosure earlier, Benghazi is another flare-up due to non disclosure, the NSA citizen spying issue is about to escalate again for the same reason. Lastly, let's not forget two high level officials in the administration have been found in contempt for either lying or withholding testimony or information.

    Our veterans deserve better and a quick response with real answers and solutions to the problems. Without an Independent investigation, we'll get more delays and rhetoric with a response that "George W. Bush" did it.

    May 15, 2014 06:16 am at 6:16 am |
  6. Gurgyl

    Thoroughly investigate and punish with severe punishment. Don't let these crooks get away. In AZ I bet they are republicans, Joe Arpio type thugs. Good lucks.

    May 15, 2014 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
  7. croaton

    Premonition......Obama- there's no there there.... It's just another phony scandal.....Not a smidgen of evidence....ect.

    May 15, 2014 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  8. smith

    The folks in charge of the VA have dropped the ball on this one and some need to be held accountable. This not Obama`s fault or Hagel`s fault or GWB`s fault the buck stops with Shinseki and others in charge of VA centers.

    May 15, 2014 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  9. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    The VA has always sucked. It's understaffed like no other government agency.

    May 15, 2014 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  10. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Obama said in a statement Wednesday, adding it was essential "we get to the bottom of what happened" at a VA hospital in Phoenix, where some veterans died while waiting for care."

    Oh, absolutely. Heads need to roll off the elite gravy train pronto, including Shinseki's. THERE IS NO excuse and the sooner President Obama understands this, the better for President Obama, and more importantly, our veterans.

    Quite frankly, I am weary of the election year gamesmanship happening lately.

    This is not an issue to be pushed to the back burner of hand wringing platitudes.

    May 15, 2014 09:44 am at 9:44 am |