By Rebecca Shabad - 05/19/14 07:52 AM EDT
Former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.) on Monday said President Obama should replace Eric Shinseki as secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“He’s a wonderful public servant and has done a terrific job in many other areas, but it is time for the president replace him,” Kerrey said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
Kerrey, who served in the Vietnam War as a U.S. Navy SEAL officer, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism in combat. After his service, he was a patient of the VA for eight or nine years, he said.
“I understand the importance of that medical system. I think Shinseki has lost the confidence both of the people who work there and the Congress,” Kerrey said.
Kerrey said Obama should replace him with an Iraq or Afghanistan war veteran.
“You’ve got to have a sense of urgency,” he said. “Unlike Vietnam, these guys are coming back from multiple tours, with traumatic brain injury, much higher incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder.”
Kerrey served in Congress from 1989 until 2001.
Shinseki also served in Vietnam, and has headed the VA since Obama tapped him in 2009.
Last week, he testified before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee about a series of allegations involving misconduct at VA facilities nationwide.
The American Legion and a number of lawmakers have called on Shinseki to step down.
In response, the White House has strongly defended Shinseki’s record.