Hagel: 'I do support Gen. Shinseki'

ABC US News | ABC Entertainment News

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on Sunday said he supports embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, who faces calls for his resignation after reports of preventable deaths at a VA facility in Phoenix.

“There’s no one who understands accountability more than Gen. Shinseki,” Hagel said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“I do support Gen. Shinseki, but there’s no margin there,” Hagel added.

“If this, in fact, or any variation of this occurred, all the way along the chain, accountability is going to have to be upheld here,” Hagel said

“We can never let this kind of outrage, if all of this is true, stand in this country.”

Hagel also said the average five-month wait time for treatment for veterans “has to be better.”

“It’s not good enough,” he said.

“I don’t think it just started with Gen. Shinseki’s term at the VA,” Hagel said. “This is something that should have been looked at years and years ago. So yes, we missed it.”

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday declined to join Republicans in demanding Shinseki’s resignation, saying the problems at the VA are “systemic” and won’t be solved by a change at the top.

Senate Republicans, including second-ranking Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), have called on Shinseki to step down. So has the American Legion.