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FILE - In this Oct. 9, 2013, file photo, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki listens as he testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky says a leadership change may help resolve what he calls "dysfunction" at the Department of Veterans Affairs, following allegations of corruption and avoidable deaths at the veterans' hospital in Phoenix. McConnell says the tenure of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki is "embarrassing" and that the agency is in "a stunning period of dysfunction." McConnell isn't calling for Shinseki to step down, but says a change in leadership "might be a good thing."(AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says he supports beleaguered Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki (shin-SEHK'-ee), but adds that the care the VA offers veterans is "not good enough."

Shinseki is a retired four-star general and Vietnam veteran who has come under criticism since reports surfaced that as many as 40 veterans died while waiting for medical care from the VA hospital in Phoenix. Veterans have also waited years in some cases to collect benefits from the administration. The American Legion and some in Congress have called for Shinseki's ouster.

Hagel acknowledges that problems with the VA began well before Shinseki took over the agency, but adds that if the allegations in Phoenix are true, "accountability is going to have to be upheld."

Hagel spoke on ABC's "This Week."

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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