HONOLULU (May 21, 2014) – The head of the State House of Representatives’ Veterans and Military Affairs Committee spoke frankly today about the new U.S. Veterans Administration scandal that accuses a VA medical center in Phoenix of not adequately treating VA patients, which may have contributed to the deaths of at least 40 veterans.
“I’m appalled, disgusted and very angry,” said state Rep. Mark Takai (Aiea), who serves as chairman of the House Committee on Veterans and Military Affairs.
“The priority and focus of the VA must be on our veterans. That is non-negotiable, and cannot wait on any further action in this matter.”
Although some are calling for the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, Takai said that “now is not the time to abandon General Shinseki.”
“Secretary Shinseki must figure out what’s going on, and he must act decisively to fix it,” Takai added. “To distract from that essential work by putting the VA through a leadership transition might put other veterans in danger, and we simply cannot allow that to happen. The discussion around leadership must wait for another day until immediate concerns are addressed.”
Takai, who is a candidate for Hawaii’s First Congressional District, is also a lieutenant colonel in the National Guard and was deployed to the Middle East in 2009. “Having seen the injuries that my fellow soldiers have sustained in battle, I take very seriously the obligation we have to each of them to ensure that they get the health care they so richly deserve for their selflessness and commitment to our country. There is no priority in our federal government that deserves more attention than this.”
Mark Takai is a member of the Hawaii Army National Guard. Use of his military rank, job titles, and photographs in uniform does not imply endorsement by the Department of Defense or Department of the Army.