A 'crisis' at Veterans Affairs?

Former Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) on Monday said the problems affecting the Department of Veterans Affairs could only be fixed with “more aggressive” leadership.

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“I think we do have a crisis,” he said on NPR’S “Diane Rehm Show.”

“When you look at getting access, not just to healthcare, but all VA systems, as being the main impediment, not the systems themselves, we need stronger leadership,” said Webb, who received two Purple Hearts while serving in the Marine Corps.

The former lawmaker declined to say if he believes embattled VA Secretary Eric ShinsekiEric ShinsekiVA secretary refuses to apologize for Disney comments GOP leaders rip VA chief over Disneyland comparison Key GOP senator demands VA secretary's resignation MORE should step down.

However, the former Navy secretary said the agency needs “more aggressive leadership to solve these problems.”

Webb said that when he entered the Senate in 2006 the department had a backlog of 900,000 cases, adding that that figure was down to 600,000 by the time he left in 2012.

Webb expressed some sympathy for officials at the beleaguered agency, saying they had to deal with a “new generation” of veterans returning home from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as Vietnam veterans who have begun to retire.

Still, “there is no reason this should have been going on so long,” Webb said.