Shinseki thanks VA staff in goodbye message

 

Former Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki on Friday issued a farewell message to the agency’s employees, thanking them for their service on behalf of the nation’s veterans. [READ SHINSEKI'S MESSAGE.]

“Over the course of the last five-and-a-half years, you have made significant and lasting progress in expanding access for veterans, in significantly decreasing the backlog in veterans’ claims while building the system that will end the backlog in 2015, and in bringing an end to veterans’ homelessness,” Shinseki said in the brief statement.

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“We have come a long way together in bringing this department into the 21st century in ways that will serve veterans long into the future,” he added.

President Obama accepted Shinseki’s resignation Friday morning after being briefed on the initial findings of a White House-mandated audit of VA facilities across the country. The examination found evidence of appointment tampering at 64 percent of the 138 facilities reviewed.

Shinseki said the “driving force” behind his decision to resign was his “personal and professional commitment and my loyalty to veterans, their families, and our survivors.”

“That loyalty has never wavered, and it will never wane,” he wrote.

Shinseki told employees that there is “more work to be done” and urged them to provide support to acting Secretary Sloan Gibson, whom Obama tasked to run the beleaguered agency until a permanent replacement is found.

“May God richly bless all of you, veterans and this great country of ours,” Shinseki concluded.