May 26th, 2014
07:31 AM ET
9 years ago

Hagel on VA scandal: 'It makes me sick to my stomach'

(CNN) - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told Jake Tapper that the scandal surrounding the VA involving delayed care for several veterans in need is upsetting.

"It makes me sick to my stomach," Hagel said. "Because it is a clear responsibility we have as a country, as a people, to take care of these men and women and their families who sacrificed so much."


Filed under: Chuck Hagel • The Lead • Veterans Affairs
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Gurgyl

    Why not we bring all these VA hospitals under the purview of ACA Law. It serves the purpose. Let us exempt these Veterans from buying insurance but cover them under Medicare and bring these hospitals in ACA Law coverage. Great idea. I bet congress says yes too on it.

    May 26, 2014 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
  2. Gurgyl

    Where is VSO? Why not it took any responsibility? Nonsense. These are seven organizations, none took responsibility?

    May 26, 2014 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  3. Gotta Be Kidding

    So everyone does understand that the problems at the VA began long before November 5, 2008. How come no one was concerned about this problem before President Obama was elected. But now, all of a sudden, it's a problem of this administration. This problem, like many other in this country, started long before Obama got in office! It's amazing to me how all this stuff is suddenly being noticed. Congress has been defunding the VA for years and years but no one seemed to think this would be a problem even though we were fighting wars all over the place. SMH! Politicians once again playing with American lives in order to stay in power. Don't know how they sleep at night!

    May 26, 2014 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  4. Melvin West

    All the expressions of outrage are meaningless, particularly because if Defense Secretary Hagel didn't know about what was happening at the VA, he should have, so flapping his gums now won't impress anyone. The Pentagon & the White House needs to replace all senior staffers. Restoring travel stipends that have been reduced for Veterans who live long distances from VA hospitals should be done immediately as well.

    May 26, 2014 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  5. pbcalif

    After the revelation of the sordid conditions at Walter Reed Army Hospital, why has the VA continued with this malfeasance? The VA has an enormous budget and so much of it is spent on clinics spread everywhere (AZ is a prime example of the multitude of clinics and other admin bldgs in outlying areas of the state.), which are most likely understaffed and under-supervised, but, don't the politicians want them in their districts? Congress should pass laws making it very easy to fire high ranking officials but this is an election year and rhetoric is high and actual action probably not so high. Include in that law that VA hospital directors cannot homestead but have to move every four years, much like military commanders. These directors homestead for most of their careers, creating an empire of "yes" people, complacency, and an atmosphere where fraud can flourish.

    May 26, 2014 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  6. Lizzie

    Gotta Be Kidding, but the President just heard it from CNN.
    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"

    May 26, 2014 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  7. Robert D Bowermaster U.S.M.C. ret.

    Its not the people that run the VA that don't care it is the DOCTORS that don't care, I have been going to the VA for 47 years, its never been good but since we got Gov. Scott the VA has cut off all my pain medications, now I was shot thru the chest with a sucking chest wound while on a listening post, left for dead two VC dragged me away and a Marine shot and killed the VC saveing my life. lung removed one year later. I am in a lot of pain 24/7. and the VA give me NO pain medication, I have to go to a private doctor and pay for it myself. My VA doctor did not look at me for the first year I saw her, she only looked at the computer. see you only get 20 minutes and if you have more than one thing wrong with you , wait till the next appointment. the Doctors are the problem and the doctors that run the clinics, they don't care and are just seat warmers, ask any veteran who has to use the VA system, I am a %100 disabled vet of Viet Nam and I sure made a mistake when I joined the Marines in 1967. I died on the battle field and it is a scary thing. Help us veterans if you care and if you can. I can tell you so many stories you would flip, Now I am waiting for back surgery and cant feel my fingers or feet, who cares???? not my doctor she told me in a letter last month my back was just normal. thank you for your concern. Robert D Bowermaster

    May 26, 2014 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  8. Joan

    The spotlight should be on a lot of different committees and people in charge. First, the Congressional and Senate oversight committees should be looked at very carefully. . They are supposed to be overseeing the VA and obviously have not been doing their job.very well. Also, the Congress holds the purse strings so how has the money they have allocated been used? Don't they check on that? These are critical questions. Then ask how many people were served by the VA when George Bush took over and compare that to how many needed care when he left? Obviously the system has been overwhelmingly strained due to his two decade long wars. Even so, there have been a lot of positive changes made. It is tragic that people have died but how many millions have been helped? How many people died in America because they didn't have health care? A lot more than this, that's for sure. It is fine to cherry pick facts to make a sensational story, but then when Pandora's Box gets opened there is a lot of blame to go around. Those who are crowing about the General and President Obama being held responsible should look in the mirror too. It should be explained why the whistleblowers took so long to come forward, what party they belong to and why they allowed such things to go on in their facilities? They need to be held accountable too. These things always snowball and often come back to bite the instigators in the first place.

    May 26, 2014 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  9. Gurgyl

    Let me ask you a direct question, when do you stop bashing this president. For no fault, you bash. What about WMD, two wars, Bin Laden found in Pakistan in turn it collected huge sum, trickle-down that sent millions of jobs outside. Be fair. God bless. Don't brand yourself a Republican–they are not feeding you either–it is your work, two hands. God bless!!

    May 26, 2014 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  10. Hector Slagg

    For the Record,
    In any organization there has to be a leader. In the case of the VA it is the President of the United States! In any Chain of Command if the Head Honcho drops the ball no one else will or can pick it up. Not sure how many dropped the ball before Obama but he stated before elected he would be on top of it. The Government has had a madrid of duties dropped on them, many that the government had/has no business in. Trying to be everything to everybody is more than the government can handle as is proven time after time. Our Liberal Friends decided everybody had a right to affordable housing. It didn't work because people couldn't afford the payments. Now Obama Care is the next disaster. So to keep the Social Programs in place, something has to be neglected. The Military is given the short end of the stick. The Peasants beg for benefits they have no right to. So, like it or not the National Debt, now over 17 Trillion keeps going up. The Peasants voted for it, now it as usual, has failed.

    May 26, 2014 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  11. ED1

    Sick then why in the HELL don't you and Obama do something about like fire people.

    Obama knew what the shape the VA was in back in 2008 but like everything else he didn't do a damn thing about he is all talk and does nothing but blame other people he wouldn't last a week as a CEO in a large company yet our stupid voters didn't learn anything the first four years so they did it again along with our wonderful liberal press what a waste.

    May 26, 2014 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  12. Amazed1

    @Robert D Bowermaster U.S.M.C. ret.
    With all that you’re going through, this may sound meaningless to you but I’ll say it anyway. Thank you for your service and your sacrifice. As the mother of two veterans and the sister of a 100% disabled veteran who served in Desert Storm, I’ve seen firsthand the long-lasting effects of war injuries. Each day is a challenge.

    The delay in care for veterans is unacceptable. As one previous poster put it, these problems didn’t begin in 2008. Unfortunately, some of the problems are so firmly entrenched that one has to wonder if it’s possible to find an acceptable remedy anytime soon. Please, no more committees to investigate the problems. If there are backlogs causing the delays, why can’t temporary employees be hired to clear a workload that current VA staff is unable to handle? Temporary appointments can be anywhere from 1-4 years.

    Unless you’ve been in the military or been part of a military family, it’s challenging to fully understand the sacrifices that are made daily by our men in women in uniform. On this Memorial Day, honor our current, former, and deceased military members. For those members still living, a simple “Thank you for your service, past or present” acknowledges sacrifices they have made.

    May 26, 2014 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  13. Amazed1


    Unless you’ve been in the military or been part of a military family, it’s challenging to fully understand the sacrifices that are made daily by our men AND women in uniform.

    May 26, 2014 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  14. ronald seaagrave

    Obama & Hagel really have nothing to do with Veterans. And it really shows, it there staged photo ops.

    May 26, 2014 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  15. Thomas

    This is not a blame game , this is about fixing a problem long-term , both democrats and republicans have been using a band-aide on a hemorrhage for too long . And the medical companies , big pharma have been juicing the American people on exorbitant costs ..

    Clean house and expose those responsible . If this happened in China those responsible would be organ donors !

    May 26, 2014 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  16. ThinkAgain - Don't like Congress? Get rid of the repub/tea bag majority.

    @Hector Slagg: "For the Record, In any organization there has to be a leader. In the case of the VA it is the President of the United States!"

    No, the POTUS is not the leader of the VA; Shinseki is. BTW, were you this outraged when the Walter Reed scandal broke during GW's term?


    May 26, 2014 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  17. Tony D

    The VA is totally federal government owned and run healthcare. It is the prototype for the totally government owned and run healthcare system the Democrats would force us all to have (euphemistically called single payer). How has it worked out for our veterans? Answer: It hasn't. Why would we think it would work out for hundreds of millions of people when they can't even handle a few million.

    Wake up America. These "wait lists" that killed veterans? Well, those are defacto death lists. Care delayed, is care denied. care denied is a death sentence for some illnesses.

    Don't be scammed and conned by the Democrats into thinking this is in anyway better than the system we have, and that they are trying to begin destroying with Obamacare, with their ultimate goal being a single payer government run disaster like the VA system.

    May 26, 2014 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  18. Jaye Ott

    If VA Medical Centers are being used as non-emergent care facilities, then send Vets with emergencies to facilities that are and bill the VA.

    May 26, 2014 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |

    Tony D . i said tommy sorry Tony good true comment . thx

    May 26, 2014 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  20. ED1

    People just don't get it.

    Government can't run a business they don't have a clue. Show me one business the Government has been successful at just one.

    Our Government needs to stay out of business and balance the budget let the private sector run business and hold them accountable because we sure don't hold our Government accountable.

    It has been two years and still don't have an approval or any word of the claim I sent into the VA.

    May 26, 2014 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |

    Read Tony D's comment PPl and take it to heart . Its true dont kid your self or lie to your self and think its not so .

    May 26, 2014 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |

    I Read somewhere there was going to be a 93000 dr. shortage in coming years due partly to the not so ACA . So waits will be longer for all of us and n0t just for 0ur vets . So its going to get worse . Thank a dem 4 its already started.

    May 26, 2014 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  23. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Mr. Robert Bowermaster, USMC, ret.

    First of all sir, thank you for your service. I'm so sorry about all you've been through. Hopefully something can finally be done about the VA. I remember hearing returning vets talk about the VA back in the 70's when I was a child. Vets deserve the best treatment this country can provide. Good luck sir.

    May 27, 2014 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  24. alan

    Another liberal who is sick and angry when in fact it was his responsibility to make sure his men are being given proper medical when they come home

    May 27, 2014 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  25. jdun

    Democrats should be up in arms- we are the party of healthcare, veterans benefits and ending wars (this century anyway). The Republicans cut aid to all government programs including for veterans. Send them to war and you will have KIA's and WIA's. We should all be in favor of supporting our injured and disabled soldiers whether mental or physical. Time to change the VA so that our vets will get the proper treatment, whatever the cost. This should be an easy bipartisan solution.

    May 27, 2014 10:58 am at 10:58 am |