May 24th, 2014
06:00 AM ET
4 months ago

Obama touches on VA scandal in weekly address

(CNN) - President Barack Obama alluded to the growing scandal unfolding within the Veteran Affairs Department in his weekly address, acknowledging the agency's crippling shortfalls in providing health care.

"In recent weeks, we’ve seen again how much more our nation has to do to make sure all our veterans get the care they deserve," he said in a White House video released Saturday that coincided with the Memorial Day weekend.

"As commander in chief, I believe that taking care of our veterans and their families is a sacred obligation," Obama said.

With reports of delayed care for some veterans with potentially deadly consequences, the scandal has not only rocked the VA but it's also placed the spotlight of scrutiny on the Obama administration.

A handful of lawmakers are calling for VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign over the agency's apparent mismanagement.

Lawmaker: VA wait-list, cover-up allegations 'tip of the iceberg'

Asked this week whether Shinseki should step aside, Obama said he needed more information but promised accountability if those assertions prove true.

Shinseki says he has no plans to step down, citing an ongoing internal review and an independent probe by the VA inspector general's office.

Coinciding with Memorial Day weekend, Obama underscored his administration's commitment to honoring American service members, past and present.

In February, Obama ordered the planning for bringing home all U.S. troops from Afghanistan at the end of the year.

And as U.S. involvement there comes to a close, Obama said, "we have to work even harder as a nation to make sure all our veterans get the benefits and opportunities they’ve earned."

"They’ve done their duty, and they ask nothing more than that this country does ours – now and for decades to come."

Carney: President first learned about VA allegations from CNN report

A CBS News poll released Thursday shows about a third of Americans surveyed think Shinseki is to blame for the VA problems.

Republicans blame Obama more than Democrats and independents, who the poll indicated are more likely to fault Shinseki or the local hospitals, according to the poll.

CNN's Jim Acosta contributed to this report.

Related: Dem 2014 candidates want VA chief out


Filed under: President Obama • Veterans • Veterans Affairs • White House
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. Marie MD

    President Obama ran on and did increase VA hospital spending by $24M. The appointment staff up by 10% but . . . . guess who voted against building much needed VA hospitals? Yep, the teaklans! Those hypocritical sub humans.

    May 24, 2014 06:40 am at 6:40 am |
  2. Thomas Harold Richards

    Obama prefers helping illegal immigrants rather than our US vets.
    Example: 2013 Obama Goverment Shutdown.
    US vets forced away from visiting war memorials in DC.
    Illegal immigrants allowed to hold a protest on the "closed" National Mall.

    Example: $ Millions spent on the FDA education Mexican Nationals on how to get free food stamps after illegally entering the US

    Example: 36000 illegal immigrants that were convicted murderers and sex-offenders released under the Obama Admin.

    May 24, 2014 06:44 am at 6:44 am |
  3. smith

    The only solution to this problem is to open more VA medical centers. The bad part is taxes will go up to pay for these new medical centers.

    May 24, 2014 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  4. Chris-E...al

    0bama is the Scandal in D.C. what is he talking about now ? wow .

    May 24, 2014 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  5. Abubakar Harun

    Thats a Government that care for her entier citizens! Not ours that Only care for themself

    May 24, 2014 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  6. Abubakar Harun

    Learn Democracy from US LAWMAKERS

    May 24, 2014 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  7. Just

    Obama how is the division and blame strategy working out?

    May 24, 2014 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  8. warthog6

    I'm grateful that you are digging so deep, and sticking to this story every day, instead of just throwing out some drama and moving onto another topic. I hope you know how important you are, and how grateful veterans are for your help.

    I'm 100% service-connected disabled, and I'm TERRIFIED of the VA that my life depends on, and that my father's life unfortunately depended on.

    I served with a tactical Military Police Company at the US Army Infantry Center, and also in combat. I remember our Captain giving a speech in formation about how we were the FINAL LINE OF DEFENSE for lawful behavior on a base where 75,000 predators practice killing people all day. I remember the enormous sense of AWE I felt on hearing that.

    Now the job is yours. Now YOU are the FINAL LINE OF DEFENSE for lawful behavior at the VA. They are answerable to NOBODY else. The very fact that they are able to maintain a considered policy and uniform nationwide program for murdering disabled veterans, collecting bonuses, and lying to cover it up, spanning countless hospitals–this is proof that they are beyond prosecution, they are outside the jurisdiction of courts and police, and keep their own private army of police who answer to nobody but THEM.

    They are so certain of their safety, they have even ignored the media for years. ONLY now–with the constant and relentless pressure of the media, are we finally able to have the possibility of justice.

    It's all up to you now. The lives of countless veterans, along with the safety of our widows and orphans are in your hands now.

    YOU ARE THE FINAL LINE OF DEFENSE.
    WITHOUT YOU VETERANS ARE DOOMED.
    WE ARE GRATEFUL.

    May 24, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  9. NameFrank Deery

    Obama knew during his run for office in 2008 there were problems in the VA and "pledged"
    then to deal with them. He hasn't, and now deaths are involved. As a vet, albeit with my own health care insurance, I am, like many Americans, tired of his cover-ups and excuses, as problems mount from Benghazi to Kiev to Damascas to Iran-and he continues to preen and fundraise, where leadership is called for.
    The country and world is a Mess! Obama
    And his minions(Reid, Pelosi, Boxer, Both Clintons)Are dinosaurs of the 70's. Gone with
    the winds of change-and evil!
    Your report said Obama "touched" on the VA
    mess. Yes, about all he did or could do.
    He, along with Shinseki, should RESIGN!
    The US will be better without both!

    are dinosaurs of

    May 24, 2014 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  10. barryinlasvegas

    More s peaches – NO ACTION = MORE COVER UP.

    May 24, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  11. J Anthony

    @Donna:yeah the truth is scary. Get used to it. Our money=debt.. The money-supply is created as a debt to private bankers. Wake up

    May 24, 2014 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  12. Kelly

    How come no one is pointing out that the VA healthcare system is the future of what all of our healthcare will soon look like under Obamacare. Both are socialized medicine – one just has been in existence longer.

    May 24, 2014 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  13. Ramesses

    Obama has firmly established himself in history as the worst president ever.

    May 24, 2014 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  14. J Anthony

    @Kelly: the U.S.A.'s EmergencyRoomCare is the private sector's version of "socialized medicine", except the only thing being socialized are the losses.

    May 24, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  15. Gurgyl

    Enough of this VA bs. Enough.

    May 24, 2014 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  16. Hector Slagg

    Let's Face it,
    The Liberal's, Democrats, and Obama were more concerned in passing Obama Care than doing anything for the Military of which always get's the shaft. And with Clueless in the White House we will get a lot of talk and nothing else. The President is Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces as Prescribed in the Constitution. Providing for the Common Defense is the per view of the President. Welfare is not a Per View of the Constitution. Obama and the Liberal's are more concerned with Food Stamps than the Common Defense.

    May 24, 2014 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  17. Chipster

    I'd like to see a thorough investigation because this problem has occurred at a relatively few VA hospitals and many of them seem to be in the more heavily Republican areas. I cannot help but wonder if the problems have been intentionally created for political reasons. I'm suspicious that these are not systemic but isolated incidents in politically conservative areas.

    May 24, 2014 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  18. king

    Its amazing how repubs runs around a corner with pitch fork and torches shouting cut spending driwn government in a bathtub, then appear on the next side pointing fingers at obama, he allowed us to cut spending so it's his fault. You know what I've noticed since the benghazi scandal, repubs ain't too much mouthing off on cutting spending so much. I wonder if they think the American people will blame them for all the cut cut cut and allowing federal agencies to be compromised because of lack of money.

    May 24, 2014 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  19. ja

    What triggering these angry somewhat juvenile white males, is it genetics or taught behavior, or it sent by your Sarah rand annd rush

    May 24, 2014 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  20. Chipster

    What we need is a Truth Squad ! I'm so sick of the lies from both sides but the constant barrage of false statements that the right wing media repeats over and over is the worst. Ingraham still repeats the Pants on Fire lie that Ambassador Steven's body was dragged through the streets when that claim has been completely debunked by the doctor who tried to revive him. But, of course, her audience doesn't watch anything but one channel. There was no "Stand Down" order and even Congressional congressmen continue to make that claim. Security was dispatched from Tripoli – one to the annex and one to secure the airport to evacuate those who had fled to the annex. Why is it so difficult to get the facts presented and call those down for repeating false claims that they know are false. Let's have a Truth Squad that will repeat the truth as many times as others repeat their lies.

    May 24, 2014 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  21. Thomas

    More war's / Less Taxes

    Rick Perry / Rand Paul 2016
    Zohydro, a pure hydrocodone pain pill, has just been approved for sale in the U.S.
    The VA can cut cost with stronger pain killers and more parking .

    May 25, 2014 02:02 am at 2:02 am |
  22. Joe

    My experience with the local VA Clinic lasted 6 months. Mt BP and cholesterol were under control with my regular doctor before I went to the VA Clinic. The VA would not give me my regular BP med (Diovan) because it was only given to those with severe heart issues. In six months I went through five meds (and two visits to the ER for HBP) of the VA formulary until I called it quits and went back to my regular doctor. The VA would also not give my my regular cholesterol med (Vytorin) and my cholesterol went from 117 to 177 in the same six months.

    I cannot imagine the problems others are experiencing with more severe health issues.

    This is not an Obama thing, it is the Veteran Affairs Director's program and should be corrected. If the man cannot do the job, find someone who can!

    May 25, 2014 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  23. Mike

    I watched John King do his Faux news Sean Hannity impression again this Sunday morning. Ten minutes of it was all I could stomach. All King could do was to ape the Tea Party blame game line and blame Obama for the terrible condition of the VA Administration which has existed for decades. Did Bush 1 or 2 care ? Did the Republican Congress care ? No ! But now with elections coming , inept media like King , line up to play into the Right Wing politics. King's shallow accusations were that Obama does not care because he won't play the witch hunt game to satisfy the rabid media , that he won't fire a lot of dedicated hard working people instead of getting to the truth first. Fire Congress. Not the hard working over burdened , under funded workers at the VA. Anyone with a brain ( excludes most media ) knows that General Shinseki is a caring , competent honorable man. Does anyone really think that the solution to the decades long problems at the VA is to fire one good man. That Obama remains calm and intelligent and does not rush to stupid decisions just to mollify his less than credible critics goes to his excellent character. Support our President. Tell Congress to quit plating politics and serve our Nation. Tell the media how ignorant they are when they hype and gripe instead of getting to the truth.

    May 25, 2014 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  24. Rich Solomon

    This picking out a section of what corruption goes on wuth these agencies that are cooking books like care at the V. A.(which has been corrected since I 've been separated from the Arny) is a device tgat is all to often use to disguise other major issues, such as cover ups in the claims for veterans. The devices used to delay a claim shuffled my own through losing my documents when I hand carried them to the V.A. it is criminal

    May 25, 2014 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  25. WOW

    Marie MD

    President Obama ran on and did increase VA hospital spending by $24M. The appointment staff up by 10% but . . . . guess who voted against building much needed VA hospitals? Yep, the teaklans! Those hypocritical sub humans.
    -------------------–
    Do you KNOW what the VA budget is? $163.4B!!! What are you talking about? The fact is that money is NOT the issue!!! The problem is that the VA is mismanaged and NO budget caused the secret lists!! The same people that were put in charge of protecting Vets by documenting poor performance, were the same ones that stole bonuses BECAUSE they lied. Do you realize that the VA staff terminations are at one quarter of what the private sector does? This means that once you are 'in', you are 'in' for life!!! THIS IS THE PROBLEM!!!

    May 25, 2014 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
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