Veteran Congressman: 'We Need to Talk About Who Needs to End Up in Jail' in VA Scandal

A congressman who flew in the Air Force on tours in Iraq and Afghanistan said firings may not be enough to rectify the Veterans Administration waitlist scandal — people may need to go to jail.


Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) told Fox that, as the allegations of the VA inappropriately making veterans wait for care and concealing the scheduling spread from Arizona to other states, the scandal likely “actually goes deeper.”

“What you see are employees that are more interested in protecting their jobs at the VA than in protecting the veterans that utilize our services,” he said.

“…This is not a game. This is life and death. This is dead real, and this is what we make a commitment to the people that defend us every day. Look, not only do people need to be suspended, not only do they need to be fired, we need to talk about who needs to end up in jail over this. Because if you are going through and creating a problem that is in some cases maybe costing veterans their lives, it’s negligence and this goes to a level that’s far beyond anything I think we’ve dealt with so far.”

The Obama administration has resisted calls for VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign, and Shinseki will appear at a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on Thursday.

“Look, Shinseki may be a good guy at heart. His window is very short. He needs to come out massively and change some things, but I don’t think he survives this, to be honest with you,” Kinzinger said. “The head of any company would be, you know, would be run out of town with these kind of results. He’s a great guy, I’m sure, but at some point we have to have answers and I wanna see massive, massive changes to the VA.”


“We’ve been talking about this for too long, we’ve been talking about the backlog, and now we’re talking about people de-leaving records to make themselves look good and not worrying about the care of veterans. It’s offensive, it has to stop and this is something America ought to be incensed about. In a bipartisan way; it’s not Republican or Democrat. It’s American.”

Among the new whistleblower reports was a claim that as many as 15,000 patients treated at the Harlingen, Texas, VA health center were either reportedly denied care or forced to undergo extended delays for cancer treatments in an attempt to cut costs.

Plus, about 1,800 records were reportedly purged at the one VA center alone to give the appearance of eliminating a backlog.

“This report of rationing of potentially life-saving care for our veterans is outrageous and absolutely unacceptable, and the Administration’s response to this ongoing scandal has been tepid at best,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said. “Our veterans deserve the highest level of treatment, and it is becoming clear that leadership at the VA has been more concerned with the appearance of care rather than how they provided it.”


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