Jim Cooper Defends Embattled VA Secretary, But Still Wants Answers

Rep. Jim Cooper talks with miltary veterans at his annual "veterans workshop." Cooper hosts the event each year, to help vets of all ages apply for benefits and find employment. Image: Rep. Jim Cooper/Flickr

Rep. Jim Cooper talks with military veterans at his annual “veterans workshop.” Cooper hosts the event each year, to help vets of all ages apply for benefits and find employment. Image: Rep. Jim Cooper/Flickr

Nashville Democratic Congressman Jim Cooper says he is waiting for answers from the U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki. Vets groups are calling for Shinseki’s resignation after a CNN investigation alleged that the VA kept a secret list of patients at its hospital in Phoenix. The list was meant to hide the fact that thousands had to wait months to see a doctor.

The CNN report says up to 1,600 vets were on thet list, and at least 40 patients died while waiting to been seen by a Veterans Administration doctor . The VA has since ordered audits at all of its clinics.

Cooper says he’ll be listening to Shinseki’s testimony at a Senate hearing on Thursday. Speaking to reporters at a veterans event in Nashville, the congressman defended Shinseki’s leadership of the massive agency.

“First of all, you need to put it in perspective. General Shinseki served with honor in Vietnam. He lost part of his foot in that service. He’s now running probably the largest bureaucracy in the country. There are going to be some bad things that happen in any organization that size. What matters is solving the problems quickly for veterans.”

Meanwhile, East Tennessee Republican Congressman Phil Roe says “heads have gotta roll” over the VA allegations. Roe sits on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, which subpoenaed Shinseki last week.

Cooper says he’s also still looking for answers to questions about a former employee in the Nashville VA office, who is alleged to have run up thousand of dollars in expenses while causing delays for veterans seeking federal benefits.

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