FORMER Army Chief of Staff and now former Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki was not the problem with the Veterans Affairs’ troubled health-care system. He might have been the best chance to clean up the mess.

His abrupt resignation Friday during a White House meeting takes a skilled leader out of the hunt to unravel a scandal denying care to new generations of veterans.

At the same time VA hospitals were manipulating the appointment system, they were losing doctors and gaining tens of thousands of new patients.

Congress is a predicable impediment. Though calls for Shinseki’s resignation came from both sides of the aisle, it was GOP leaders who blocked legislation last January in the Senate that would have expanded access to health care for veterans.

The blocked legislation called for 27 new medical facilities, one of the budgetary realities of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Providing the promised care will be expensive, but it is a commitment that must be honored.

Shinseki made enemies when he told the Bush administration its plans for Iraq would require hundreds of thousands of troops. He was right, and paid a price.

Once again this man of honor and courage is a victim of political turmoil.

Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Sharon Pian Chan, Lance Dickie, Jonathan Martin, Erik Smith, Thanh Tan, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).