Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki resigns amid veterans' health care issues

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki pauses while speaking at a meeting of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, Friday, May 30, 2014, in Washington. President Barack Obama says he plans to have a "serious conversation" with Shinseki about whether he can stay in his job. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak) (5/30/14)

WASHINGTON - Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki announced his resignation Friday amid widespread troubles in the VA health care system.

President Barack Obama appointed Sloan Gibson to serve as temporary head of the VA as he chooses a permanent replacement. Gibson joined the VA as its No. 2 deputy about three months ago; he had previously served as president of the USO, the nonprofit organization that provides programs and services to U.S. troops and their families.

Before offering his resignation, Shinseki offered a public apology to veterans and their families. A watchdog report found major issues within the VA.

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"The VA needs new leadership to address them," says President Obama. "He does not want to be a distraction because his priority is to fix the problem and make sure the vets are getting the care that they need. That was Rick's judgment on behalf of his fellow veterans and I agree."

Obama says he accepted the resignation with "considerable regret." He and Shinseki met in the Oval Office on Friday morning.

Shinseki also announced a series of steps, including firing the senior leader at the VA's Phoenix hospital, which was the initial focus of the investigation.

No New Jersey facilities are being investigated.

The VA health care system provides care to about 6.5 million veterans annually.

Shinseki is a retired four-star Army general who has overseen the VA since the start of Obama's presidency.

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