“If these allegations prove to be true, it is dishonorable. It is disgraceful. And I will not tolerate it. Period,” Obama said at the White House.
He spoke to reporters after meeting with embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.
“Any misconduct, whether it’s allegations of VA staff covering up long wait times or cooking the books, I will not stand for it,” Obama said.
The VA is under fire amid a growing scandal. Allegations surfaced that officials covered up a secret waiting list for veterans in Phoenix causing deadly delays. Sources inside the VA say at least 40 veterans died while waiting for care. The president says he recognizes the fight to shorten wait times for veterans is an ongoing struggle.
“We all know that it often takes too long for veterans to get the care that they need. That’s not a new development. It’s been a problem for decades. And it’s been compounded by more than a decade of war,” Obama said.
Some senior VA officials are already on administrative leave. More disciplinary action could come after a broad review is completed next month.
“We have to let the investigators do their job and get to the bottom of what happened. Our veterans deserve to know the facts. Their families to know the facts,” Obama said.
Critics say more action is needed, not more studies. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is among them, saying in a statement, “I remain concerned that there remains insufficient attention devoted to this crisis and the care our veterans deserve.”