Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki testified on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on May 15.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned on Friday after a one-on-one meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House.
Shinseki's departure comes after days of withering criticism from across the political spectrum, as scores of senators called for him to step down amid growing allegations of misconduct at VA branches throughout the country.
Obama, speaking at a White House press conference, said that Sloan Gibson, who had been deputy secretary of veterans affairs, would now serve as the acting secretary.
Shinseki, a retired four-star general, had already come under scrutiny for initial allegations that 40 veterans had died at the Phoenix, Arizona VA while they were on a secret healthcare appointment waiting list that was meant to cover up the amount of time it took for veterans to land a checkup.
Many politicians, including Obama, refrained from calling for Shinseki's resignation after the first round of allegations. Obama backed him at a press conference last week, saying that "nobody cares more about our veterans than Eric Shinseki."
But the second round of resignation calls proved too much, as Senate Democrats began to join their Republican counterparts in what became a chorus calling for Shinseki to step away from his post. Many politicians thanked Shinseki for his service to the United States in their statements, but they concluded he had not proven to be an adept leader at the VA.
Today was a "rip the band aid off" political moment for the WH. The heat from Dems was just too much for them to ignore— Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) May 30, 2014
Obama said he accepted Shinseki's resignation because of Shinseki's own belief "that he would be a distraction from the task at hand."
For Shinseki, his legacy at the VA has become a tale of failed redemption.
The secretary was appointed by Obama and took office in 2008, five years after he had retired from his post as Army chief of staff.
But "retired" might be too light a phrase to use.
Shinseki faded into the political landscape after he went before Congress in 2003 to say that victory in the Iraq War would require many more soldiers than what the White House was suggesting.
The Bush administration vilified him for it, then pushed him out of Washington, D.C.
But, as it turns out, Shinseki was right. Plenty of military and political officials said as much years later, when the need for more United States soldiers in Iraq was plain.
It was with the knowledge of his vindication that Shinseki started his tenure at the VA. But six years later, it has not ended the way he'd hoped.
The retired four-star general has been a military professional since before his adult life. He attended West Point, America's premiere military academy, and six months later he was shipped off to the Vietnam War, where he earned two Purple Hearts.
From there he rose to be a four-star general and the commanding general of U.S. Army Europe.
Then, on June 22, 1999, Shinseki became the 24th Army chief of staff under President Bill Clinton, a position which he used to advocate for a more deployable, more modern Army.
The rest, as the saying goes, is history, and much of that history is already catalogued at The General Eric. K. Shinseki Exhibit inside the U.S. Army Museum of Hawaii, the state in which Shinseki was born, just like the president who gave him a shot to turn the VA around.
The exhibit opened in 2004, and it chronicles Shinseki's life from his childhood all the way through his career in the military.