Joint Chiefs Chairman Dempsey backs Shinseki

The nation’s top military officer on Thursday expressed confidence that Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki will be able to mend his beleaguered agency.

“He never has walked away from a fight in his entire life,” said Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey during a press conference at the Pentagon.

Shinseki spent most of Thursday morning being taken to task by members of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee over recent accusations that several VA clinics kept secret wait lists to cover up how long veterans were kept waiting to receive care.

Shinseki told lawmakers that he was “mad as hell” about the allegations and vowed that “timely action action will be taken” to get to the bottom of the charges.

Dempsey said that Shinseki faced an “enormous challenge.”

“But I have confidence that his leadership will help the Veterans Administration through this,” he told reporters.

The four-star general said the Defense Department has a “huge stake” in the state of the VA.

“We recruit the young men and women who will eventually become veterans. And we look forward to working with them to continue to make progress,” Dempsey said.