VA Secretary Eric Shinseki Resigns
Embattled VA Secretary Eric Shinseki tendered his resignation today to President Obama, the president announced at the White House.
"He does not want to be a distraction," Obama said. "That was Ric's judgment on behalf of his fellow veterans."
"My assessment was, unfortunately, that he was right. I regret that he has to resign under these circumstances," Obama said after a face-to-face meeting with Shinseki. "I agree, we don't have time for distractions, we need to fix the problem."
The president announced that Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan D. Gibson will serve as acting Secretary.
"Today I want every man and women who've served under our flag to know, whether your tour has been over for decades or is just about to end, we will never stop working to do right by you," Obama said.
Earlier in the day, Shinseki addressed a homeless veterans advocacy group and apologized for the scandal over veterans' wait times for health care and said he was surprised by the "lack of integrity" some VA officials had displayed, announcing a series of actions he's taken since the release of Wednesday's interim findings by the Veterans Affairs Administration's inspector-general investigation.
"I apologize as the senior leader of the Department of Veterans Affairs," Shinseki said.
"I can't explain the lack of integrity among the leaders of some of our health care facilities," Shinseki told the group, calling it something he "rarely encountered" during his time in uniform.
President Obama, in an interview with Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan, hosts of ABC's "Kelly and Michael," that aired today said: "I don't want any veteran to not be getting the kind of services they deserve."
But the president also had some praise for the embattled VA secretary: "I will say that Eric Shinseki is a American hero, wounded vet, somebody who lead our troops during very difficult times and cares about veterans more than just about anybody I know."
He echoed that sentiment during his remarks at the White House.
"He's a very good man," Obama said of Shinseki. "He's deeply disappointed in the fact that bad news didn't get to him."
ABC's Chris Good and Devin Dwyer contributed reporting.