ST. LOUIS - A local whistleblower speaking out about mismanagement inside the St. Louis VA system reacts to Eric Shinseki's resignation as Veterans Affairs Secretary.
Dr. Jose Mathews, the former chief of psychiatry for the St. Louis VA, said he knows the system and that Shinseki didn't fail the VA; the VA failed him.
"I think it's a really sad day," said Dr. Mathews, who believes Shinseki stepping down is an injustice.
"How can you hold him responsible if all he hears is that we are doing great?" said Mathews. "And St. Louis, I think, is just one prime example."
The former head of psychiatry has chronicled to NewsChannel 5 how local veterans seeking help for mental illness were subjected to extended wait times because psychiatrists were seeing, in his opinion, half the patients a day they should have been seeing.
Mathews says he was reassigned to handle medical claims in a basement office when he spoke up.
"Today we had an honest man, an upright man, pay the price for the corruption that's not his," Mathews said.
Veterans NewsChannel 5 reached out to agreed with Dr. Mathews' assessment.
"I love the VA. They've saved my life twice. I've gotten superb care here," said Vietnam veteran Hank Kistner. According to Kistner, the VA system is flawed.
"I think all the wrongdoing lies in the lower levels and that's very difficult to control. I think they ought to do a very thorough ransacking of the organization."
Another veteran, Heath McClung added, "I understand that somebody has to take the blame and I respect Shinseki for, you know, taking the fall, but it really starts from the foundation levels."
Dr. Mathews said the VA scandal should be investigated as a crime.
While the VA has released statements disputing the doctor's claims, it has ignored repeated requests for interviews.