Shinseki vows he will restore VA benefits to thousands


POSTED: Wednesday, January 07, 2009

WASHINGTON » Retired Gen. Eric K. Shinseki pledged to move quickly to fix gaps in health care if confirmed as Veterans Affairs secretary, saying he will reopen benefits to hundreds of thousands of middle-income veterans denied during the Bush administration.

In a 54-page disclosure obtained yesterday by the Associated Press, President-elect Barack Obama's choice to head the government's second largest agency also urged Congress to set VA funding a year in advance to minimize political pressures. And the former Army chief of staff said he will step down from the corporate boards of defense contractors to alleviate potential conflicts of interest.

“;If confirmed, I would focus on these issues and the development of a credible and adequate 2010 budget request during my first 90 days in office,”; Shinseki wrote to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, noting that VA funding in the past created “;significant management difficulties”; that delayed medical care.

The Senate committee is scheduled to hold Shinseki's confirmation hearing next Wednesday.