Nicholson Announces Resignation as Veterans Affairs Chief
Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson unexpectedly resigned on Tuesday after months of "struggling to respond to allegations of shoddy health care for veterans injured in the Iraq war," the AP/Philadelphia Daily News reports.
Nicholson was selected by President Bush to head VA in 2005. Under Nicholson's two-year tenure, VA experienced an unexpected $1.3 billion budget shortfall, the theft of 26.5 million veterans' personal data and a controversy over $3.8 million in bonuses granted to top VA officials despite the department's budget shortfall. In addition, VA was criticized this year for its backlog of disability benefit claims, with delays in payment as long as 177 days.
Nicholson said, "It has been an honor and privilege to lead the VA during this historic time for our men and women who have worn the uniform. We have accomplished so much, and the VA is always striving to improve our services to veterans" (Yen, AP/Philadelphia Daily News, 7/18). Nicholson said, "This coming February, I turn 70 years old, and I feel it is time for me to get back into business, while I still can."
House Veterans' Affairs Committee Chair Bob Filner (D-Calif.), who called for Nicholson's resignation after the theft of veterans' personal information last summer, said, "I think you need someone who's going to be bolder and more creative. It's become a very insular system. Someone has to sort of break it open to allow more ideas to come in" (Yoest, CQ Today, 7/17).
Nicholson said his resignation would take effect no later than Oct. 1 (AP/Philadelphia Daily News, 7/18).
NPR's "Morning Edition" on Wednesday reported on Nicholson's resignation (Wertheimer, "Morning Edition," NPR, 7/18).
Audio of the segment is available online.