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Wagner, Luetkemeyer call for head of VA to resign

Wagner, Luetkemeyer call for head of VA to resign

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WASHINGTON - Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin, and Rep.  Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-St. Elizabeth,  on Thursday called for the resignation of Veterans Administration Secretary Eric Shinseki, whose recent tenure has been rocked by allegations of lax or negligent care at VA facilities around the country, including St. Louis.

"Our veterans deserve the highest level of care which they have earned through their valor and military service," Wagner said in a statement. "We need a new leader at the VA that will demand accountability, and cut through bureaucracy to get the job done."

 Luetkemeyer said that "Shinseki knew the VA had problems when he was hired and those problems have not been addressed. In fact, they have become worse. Secretary Shinseki hasn't been able to do the job so he needs to step down and let someone who can do the job."

 Earlier this week, President Barack Obama praised Shinseki's service, and said the VA had made progress in dealing with backlogs and waitlists, but that he was concerned about allegations that some veterans may have died while awaiting care at a Phoenix facility. There have been other allegations of lax service at other VA facilities, including a whistleblower's complaint about mental health treatment in St. Louis.

Obama has sent a top aide to investigate those allegations, and noted that federal investigators are looking into potential problems elsewhere in the VA. He did not address Shinseki's future in a short appearance before reporters on Wednesday.

"We have to let the investigators do their job and get to the bottom of what happened," Obama said. "Our veterans deserve to know the facts. Their families deserve to know the facts. And once we know the facts, I assure you - if there is misconduct, it will be punished."

Other St. Louis-area members have raised concerns about the VA, but Sens. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.; and Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, have not called for Shinseki's resignation.

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Chuck Raasch is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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