House cleaning begins at VA

Eric Shinseki had to go.

Of that there was zero doubt. The decorated retired four-star Army general served his country with honor on the battlefield, but his new assignment — as secretary of veterans affairs — became too bloody a political battle for him to continue on.

He quit today.

Let the overhaul commence in earnest.

Shinseki has left a department in absolute chaos. The VA has been scandalized by reports of veterans dying while awaiting health care and by allegations that staffers drafted bogus wait times to cover up their mistakes. This happened on Shinseki’s watch as a Cabinet secretary.

He had to quit.

The next veterans affairs secretary will inherit an agency that will have commenced a thorough top-to-bottom review. There needs to be an accounting of what happened, who did it and there ought to be criminal charges brought if it’s proven that their negligence resulted directly in the deaths of any of those estimated 40 veterans.

Every official in Washington — from President Obama down through the chain of command — keep saying they honor the service our veterans perform for the country. The VA health care system has let many of them down. The system has let down an entire country that has talked the talk, but failed to deliver on all those expressions of gratitude.

I am saddened that Gen. Shinseki has taken the hit on this one. However, someone has to be accountable. He came to office vowing to take care of our veterans. His agency hasn’t kept its promise.

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