Faced with growing calls for his resignation, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki penned an op-ed stating his commitment to restoring integrity to a department wracked with scandal over severely delayed treatments at veterans hospitals.
In the Thursday op-ed, published by USA Today, the retired U.S. Army four-star general said delayed treatments -- up to 115 days on average at a facility in Phoenix, Arizona -- are "reprehensible" and that he is taking action to implement recommendations laid out in a new inspector general report.
"We are doing all we can to accelerate access to care throughout our system and in communities where veterans reside," he wrote. "I've challenged our leadership to ensure we are doing everything possible to schedule veterans for their appointments. We, at the Department of Veterans Affairs, are redoubling our efforts, with commitment and compassion, to restore integrity to our processes to earn veterans' trust."
The dam appeared to break on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, as several vulnerable Democrats running for reelection -- including Sens. Al Franken (Minn.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.) and John Walsh (Mont.) -- joined Republicans in calling for Shinseki's resignation.
While a spokesman said Wednesday that President Barack Obama found the new OIG report "extremely troubling," he did not offer any indication as to Shinseki's future.
In his op-ed, the secretary said he remains committed to doing his duty at the department.
"After 38 years in the Army, I am honored and privileged to serve veterans as the secretary of Veterans Affairs, and I remain committed to providing the high-quality care and benefits that veterans have earned and deserve. And we will," he said.