May 24th, 2014
06:00 AM ET
9 years 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.

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"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. Gurgyl

    John king is duplicate for venom spew. Republicans their supporters with no education, GOP is a disaster. True.

    May 25, 2014 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  2. Lizzie

    Obama then (2009)..."We're going to challenge each of our 57 regional VA offices to come up with the best ways of doing business, of harnessing the best information technologies, of cutting red tape and breaking through the bureaucracy. And then we're going to fund the best ideas and put them into action, all with a simple mission: cut those backlogs, slash those wait times, deliver your benefits sooner. (Applause.) I know you've heard this for years, but the leadership and resources we're providing this time means that we're going to be able to do it. That is our mission, and we are going to make it happen"
    Obama now......(Crickets)

    May 25, 2014 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  3. Anonymous

    More empty words "If true", "accountability", "Investigation" from the empty suit that currently occupies the white house.

    May 25, 2014 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  4. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Why blame Obama? The Republican Congress votes to buy weapons we don't need or want and then cuts funding to the V.A. Do the research and stop listening to Faux "News" lies.

    May 25, 2014 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  5. Glenn

    Obama is still getting his updated information from his MSNBC app on his Iphone.

    May 25, 2014 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  6. anthony78

    Republican America...

    Unfunded Wars, but no funding for Veterans
    More guns in society, no affordable health care.
    Tax breaks for the rich, cut funding for the unemployed.

    Did I miss anything?

    May 25, 2014 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  7. Michigan patriot

    Illegals get good health care when they don't deserve it, and our veterans are forgotten. He calls himself the Commander in Chief, and what he has done to protect and to care for our veterans? He should be ashamed of himself.

    May 25, 2014 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  8. JSeth

    I've served in the military for 25 years and I've had enough of the hypocrisy. Though the VA system is not perfect, there have been major improvements the last five years. I'm sick of people politicizing each and everything. News flash, it is an all volunteer force. I was never promised free medical care for the rest of my days and my motto is not "you owe me". I know every veteran has a different financial situation; however, why someone would not seek life or death treatment in an emergency room is stunning to me. I make no excuses for those cooking the books but if an illegal is welcomed in an emergency room to birth a child or acquire treatment with open arms. I would hope an American citizen would be able to get the same treatment. While I hope the system is reformed, this will be a work in progress. As long as a segment of veterans are feigning injuries for monetary gain to obtained free medical treatment and as long as another segment of veterans in receipt of retirement pay, a VA disability, and a six figure government job who still exclusively use the VA for free medical, there will be issues.

    May 25, 2014 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  9. Stockton Joe

    We see a "rush to war" – with both sides in Congress voting to go to war without paying for the war, never mind increasing VA funding to prepare for returning Vets (the Iraq war was approved 297-133 in the House and 77-23 in the Senate). Then, BOTH Republicans and Democrats very eager and anxious to spend the "Peace Dividend" on anything and everything BUT the VA.

    We can't "solve" the VA's problems without spending more money. But allocating more money isn't the solution. Throwing money at the problem without clear, decisive Leadership AND Accountability is meaningless.

    Republican AND Democrats have used Veterans as "cardboard props for photo-ops" and really and truly nothing else. These problems are nothing new. They happened under a Democrat Administration and a Democrat Legislature, a Republican Administration and a Republican Legislature, a Democrat Administration and a Republican Legislature, and a Republican Administration and a Democrat Legislature. And they never got addressed by anybody anywhere except in quickly forgotten campaign speeches.

    May 25, 2014 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
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