Joe Biden: “We’re behind right now” when it comes to taking care of veterans

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(CNN) -- Vice President Joe Biden said the United States needs to "get to the bottom" of the problems rocking the Department of Veterans Affairs at a Memorial Day event Monday.

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and the Obama administration have come under fire over reports of excessively long waits for medical care for veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We owe you for what you've done for us," Biden said, alluding to the ongoing scandal. He was addressing a group of some 200 cyclists, including injured veterans, set to ride 325 miles from Washington to Virginia Beach, in the annual Road 2 Recovery Memorial Challenge.

"The government has a lot of obligations," the vice president continued. "The only truly sacred obligation we have before every other obligation that exists in this country is to equip those of you that we send into harm's way and care for you when you come home and your families."

"That is our sacred obligation, and we're behind right now. The VA is having problems, and we've got to get to the bottom of it,' he added.

Biden noted the government has expanded the eligibility for the VA over the past few decades, but he said "that is not a reason for misrepresentation along the line."

Caring for its veterans, Biden said, "is a long-term commitment this nation has to make."

"Today, it seems, that we Americans have to recommit ourselves, not just with words but with our deeds, and you're the inspiration for doing it to once again make sure that every single individual, the sacrifice you made is worthy of the people you made it for."

Last week, the VA's Office of Inspector General said it was investigating 26 agency facilities over allegations of doctored waiting times.

A handful of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have called on Shinseki to resign over the issue, but the White House has not called for the embattled secretary to step aside.



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