Sloan Gibson, the acting secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department, on Tuesday acknowledged that “not all veterans are getting access to the healthcare that they have earned” and pledged to make addressing the problems quickly the VA’s top priority.
Gibson took over last week when Eric Shinseki, a retired four-star general, resigned following reports of treatment delays and other problems at VA hospitals across the country.
Gibson said in his first statement as acting secretary that “systemic problems in scheduling processes have been exacerbated by leadership failures and ethical lapses.” He added: “I will use all available authority to swiftly and decisively address issues of willful misconduct or mismanagement.”
The temporary VA chief also said that external reports over the past decade show that veterans rate VA health hospitals and clinics as high or higher than the ratings patients give most private hospitals. He also expressed appreciation of Shinseki on behalf of veterans, noting that they’d benefit from the “transformation” begun in the past five years under Shinseki’s leadership.