There have been a lot of talking heads (including mine) on TV, talking about the situation at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
With President Obama weighing in, today, taking the wait-and-see approach that VoteVets.org has advocated, regarding the status of Secretary Eric Shinseki, it makes some sense to finally take a look at where veterans, themselves, stand. After all, veterans have the most to gain or lose here.
To that, end, VoteVets polled 3,300 random supporters who are veterans or military family members. Here's what we found:
- Out of the total group polled, only 17 percent believed that Secretary Shinseki should resign. A whopping 60 percent said he should not resign, with 23 percent saying they weren't sure yet.
- The American Legion has called on Shinseki to resign. As of yet, I don't believe they asked their members if they agreed. So, we decided to. Of those on our list who also are members of the American Legion, only 17 percent backed the Legion's call for Shinseki to resign. Sixty-four percent said he should not resign, with 19 percent saying they weren't yet sure.
- And of those who receive care at the VA, again, there was no overwhelming call for Shinseki to step down. Sixty-two percent said he should not resign. Twenty-four percent said they weren't sure, with the remainder, just 14 percent, saying he should. That's interesting, in that those who actually receive VA care are the least likely to say Shinseki should resign. Listening to the news, you would think that those who get VA care would be up in arms, with torches and pitchforks, calling for Shinseki's head. That just isn't the case.
So, what is the point of this, then?
This isn't a scientific poll of all veterans, but it is a glimpse into a few segments of them. It's the one thing that's been missing from most news stories out there. You'd be hard-pressed to find any veteran who is happy about what happened at the Phoenix VA. Yet, at the same time, I don't think the American Legion, or the Koch-backed Concerned Veterans for America, are really representing how veterans feel at large. It's very likely that the Legion isn't even representing its own membership anymore. That's a true shame for such a historic veterans' organization.
In short, it's time for the media to be a little more fair and balanced regarding Eric Shinseki. Yes, what happened at the Phoenix VA is a real tragedy, and it deserves an investigation and a response. Without polling, I can tell you pretty much all of America's veterans believe that. But, what veterans don't seem to be saying yet, at least in the survey of our supporters, is that Eric Shinseki should resign.
Therefore, to characterize Shinseki as "embattled" or anything like it, at this point, doesn't reflect the facts. Those facts are that President Obama, and the veterans community, at large, has called for an investigation. But neither has asked Eric Shinseki to resign. In fact, veterans that we polled specifically said he should not.