Today President Barack Obama stood in the White House Press Room to announce that once again, his administration had left a strong and talented leader out in the wind with a response that was slow, weak and disconnected. General Eric Shinseki has been one of the most regarded leaders of the Department of Veterans Affairs since it was created. His tenure represents some of the strongest investments and reforms of any federal agency throughout the government. To watch today as his service ends in scandal shows what Democrats on the Hill and across America have said all too often about this White House, they purely are tone deaf and far too quick to bow down to critics.
Over the last month or so Americans have watched with disappointment as every day the news of horrible service at some VA Medical Centers came to light. What is even more sad is that as the news developed most people witnessed a White House unable or unwilling to respond and then an administration that when it did sounded flat and confused. Let’s be clear, what we have witnessed in this incident is not a department awash in resources and lazy employees refusing to see wounded veterans. The truth is in budgets passed not only by Congress but also the one presented by the White House, the funds just do not cover the mission. It isn’t new and didn’t just start to happen. Even more outrageous is that because Secretary Shinseki is stepping down things will likely get worse before they get better. America deserves an administration aggressive in moving the country forward and determined in defending the men and women who step up to serve our wounded veterans. As a Democrat and even more a Marylander, today the White House disappointed me. Secretary Shinseki, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and our veterans deserved better leadership than the president provided today.
Joseph Lynn Kitchen Jr. is an ordained Baptist minister from Prince George’s County, MD where he serves as a community leader on issues of education reform, public transportation and youth empowerment. Joseph is President of the Young Democrats of Maryland. Learn more about Joseph’s work at www.josephkitchen.com.