News Releases

(SEATTLE, WA) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray, a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and long-time veterans advocate, today applauded the nomination of retired General Eric K. Shinseki as Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Murray, who has battled the Bush Administration to increase funding and resources to improve a host of issues from disability claim backlogs and homelessness to PTSD and suicide, today looked to the future with a new Administration and Secretary focused on improving care for veterans.

“I have always said we need a VA Secretary who will be honest about what our veterans need and have the backbone to stand up and ask for it.  America’s veterans deserve a truthful advocate and energetic leader who will break through the red tape and make veterans, not the bottom-line, the top priority of VA management.  I am hopeful we’ll find both in General Shinseki.

“This is a critical time in the VA’s history.  With our troops fighting overseas, veterans coming home every day, and countless more aging into the system, the VA is facing unprecedented challenges in providing quality care for all of our veterans.  For too long, leaders at the VA have done the agency, its doctors and nurses and our veterans a disservice.  Too many have been apologists for failed policies and bad budgets, rather than strong advocates for the heroes who have served and sacrificed for our nation.

“General Shinseki, himself, is a wounded combat veteran of the Vietnam war.  He has put his country above politics and his reputation is one of honesty and courage.  General Shinseki has shown the fortitude to speak truth to power and the vision to see and say what others could - or would - not.  That is the type of honest advocate our veterans deserve.

“Having sat next to President-elect Obama on the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, I know his dedication to those who have served our nation.  I believe his selection of General Shinseki reflects that commitment.  But I also know that the problems at the VA won’t be solved overnight. 

“The mountain of challenges facing the next VA Secretary is steep.  Veterans are still waiting far too long for the disability benefits they have earned.  Female veterans are coming home to a system that is ill-prepared to care for their unique needs.  Facilities are in desperate need of renovations. And twenty percent of veterans are returning home with serious mental health needs to a VA that still doesn’t have the resources in place to care for them or a plan to ensure our struggling heroes don’t fall through the cracks into an abyss.

“Change won’t happen overnight, but with transparency, honesty and energy, we can begin to make a difference.

“I look forward to hearing directly from General Shinseki about his ideas to improve care. I will be particularly interested in his plans to improve outreach to those struggling with PTSD and other invisible wounds of war.  I am hopeful that his extensive knowledge of the battlefield and his experience in the military will build on the VA's ongoing efforts to improve that transition for our wounded warriors. 

“Real change at the VA will not come from the confirmation of one leader.  But I believe General Shinseki can confirm his commitment to changing the system through his actions – and that will start with listening to veterans and advocates and being honest with lawmakers about the resources needed to take us in a new direction.  I stand ready and willing to work with him and the new Administration to ensure our veterans get the care and compassion they have earned.”