VA’s Chinese Water Torture Continues

TIME

The classic Washington political drama—will he go or will he stay?—is now swirling around Eric Shinseki, the secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. It could be weeks or months before we know the answer.

Good, his critics might retort. He may end up waiting as long to learn his fate as some of those veterans have waited for appointments with one of his 300,000 employees.

The critics have a point. Despite the high grades the VA gets for tending to the ailments of the nation’s vets, it has always had problems seeing them quickly enough when they need help—or when they are seeking disability benefits. Such wait-list problems have persisted for years, even as the VA’s budget has tripled, to $150 billion annually, since 9/11.

The VA debate over fudged appointment waiting times—possibly leading to vet deaths—reached a critical point over the weekend. There was a

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