Secretary’s resignation won’t end VA’s problem, experts say

Secretary Eric Shinseki’s resignation May 30 removed a target of public criticism in the scandal-ridden department. But the reputational crisis goes far deeper than that.

Ragan Insider Premium Content
Ragan Insider Content

Crisis communication managers know that some scandals blow up so big, resignations won’t solve the problem. What’s needed is a housecleaning to restore trust.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki’s departure amid a scandal about care for suffering vets falls into that category, communications pros and political speechwriters agreed.

President Obama announced May 30 that Shinseki was out the door, but few experts saw this as a solution to the latest crisis in an agency with a decades-long history of problems.

“Shinseki’s resignation is a political Band-Aid for a reputational sucking chest wound,” says Jonathan Bernstein, president of Bernstein Crisis Management. “There is no question the VA appointment-making system is horribly broken. But if I were advising the VA, I’d tell them go beyond mea culpas and promises to fix what’s broken.”

1,700 veterans never scheduled

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.