Yesterday, Veterans Affairs Bob McDonald compared treatment at the Veterans Affairs hospitals to Disneyland, saying, “When you go to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line? Or what’s important?”
The remark led to criticism from veterans groups and top Republicans, including Speaker Paul Ryan and presumptive nominee Donald Trump. It is also false as Disney does track the number of hours people wait in line. The wait times are available on the mobile apps and employees will get the occasional park visitor a small badge that is then used to measure the wait time.
McDonald made the comments to reporters on Monday at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.
“On Monday, I made some remarks on how we’re working to improve Veterans’ satisfaction with the care they receive from VA. It was never my intention to suggest that I don’t take our mission of serving Veterans very seriously,” McDonald said in a statement. “If my comments Monday led any Veterans to believe that I, or the dedicated workforce I am privileged to lead, don’t take that noble mission seriously, I deeply regret that. Nothing could be further from the truth.” While McDonald’s statement is being reported as an apology, he seems to more so apologize that his comments were misinterpreted.
Senator Roy Blunt, a Republican who is facing a tough re-election fight in his home state of Missouri, called on McDonald to resign after his remark.
“I call on him to resign because it’s clear he cannot prioritize getting our veterans the health care they deserve and have earned in a timely manner. Dismissing wait times when veterans can often wait months for an appointment is negligent and a clear sign that new leadership is needed at the VA,” Blunt said Tuesday.
McDonald’s predecessor, Secretary Eric Shinseki, was forced to resign after reports emerged of long wait times and improper operations at Veterans Affairs hospitals.