Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Sunday that "everybody," including Congress, is responsible for the recent troubles plaguing the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Last week, Eric Shinseki stepped down as secretary of Veterans Affairs following allegations of long treatment wait times for sick veterans, fudged records and preventable deaths at veterans' hospitals.
In an appearance on CBS' "Face The Nation," Sanders described the situation as "absolutely reprehensible."
"What is very clear to everybody right now is that in many parts of the country, the VA simply did not have the doctors and the staff to make sure the veterans got timely care. The system was then gamed, which is absolutely reprehensible, which must be dealt with through criminal prosecution and bureaucratic reshuffling. But we need to make sure that that never happens again," Sanders said.
Sanders serves as the chairman of the Senate's Committee on Veterans' Affairs, which provides oversight for the embattled agency. He said he will be introducing legislation in coming days to immediately address the wait times at VA hospitals and provide veterans with options for receiving private care if needed.
"I think everybody can bear some of the responsibility," Sanders said. "We have had a number of hearings. We have met with all of the veterans organizations. I think the point right now Bob is to make sure we address the very real problems that are facing six and a half million veterans who utilize the VA system. And what we have got to do is to understand, you know, that the cost of war is very, very significant."