(NBC News) Veterans are calling for the resignation of the head of the Veterans Administration amid allegations that the V.A. made some vets wait so long to see a doctor, they died.
The man at the center of this controversy is a four-star general – a decorated veteran himself. But now the nation’s largest veterans group, the American Legion, wants him out.
Whistle-blowers claims thousands of appointment requests were diverted to a secret list, to improve performance, and that as investigators were closing in, some of those records were destroyed. “I am angry,” said VA Secretary, Eric Shinseki.
But he’s not giving up his job – not yet. “General Shinseki’s time as Secretary of Veterans Affairs has come to an end and he needs to step down,” said Senator John Cornyn, (R) Arizona.
VA Chief Eric Shinseki says he’ll await results of an internal investigation. “I would say I serve at the pleasure of the President,” said Shinseki.
“The President remains confident in Secretary Shinseki’s ability to lead the department,” said White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney.
The Inspector General is looking into allegations that as many as 40 veterans died waiting up to a year and a half for appointments at the VA hospital in Phoenix. “You have to break through, do a full frontal assault in order to get an appointment,” said Retired Military Officer Noel Benoist.
“I do not have the 40 cases that the allegations centered around,” said Sharon Helman, Director, Phoenix VA Medical Center.
There are also allegations in Texas and Colorado. “It’s just absolutely infuriating, because to have your son survive three combat tours to come home to be treated like this,” said Mother of Veteran Catherine Brooks.