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McChrystal: Let's not 'overreact' in laying blame for VA scandal

May 21, 2014 at 8:28 AM ET

Despite calls for embattled Veterans Administration Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign over a scandal involving the the deaths of dozens of veteran patients, the former U.S. commander of Afghanistan forces said the nation needs to hear out all the facts before affixing blame.

“I’m a great believer in accountability, but I’m also a great believer in knowing the facts before you hold anybody accountable,” retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal told TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie on Wednesday.

Shinseki was scheduled to meet with President Obama on Wednesday to discuss updates to reports that at least 40 veterans died while awaiting care in the VA system.

McChyrstal, a military leader familiar with scandal after his forced retirement years ago amid fallout from a controversial magazine article, reminded Guthrie that the VA deals with several hundred thousand medical appointments each day and generally provides highly rated service.

“So before we throw the baby out with the bathwater, what I’d say is there are a lot of professionals who do great work so I’d ask us to really investigate this and make sure that we fix what needs to fix, but we don’t sort of fall in line with a headline or something and overreact,” he said.

McChrystal oversaw U.S. forces in Afghanistan until a 2010 Rolling Stone article cut his military career short. Entitled “The Runaway General,” the article included highly critical comments by McChrystal and his staff about the way President Obama handled the war in Afghanistan. McChrystal stepped down shortly afterward.

“I certainly miss being a soldier. I miss being around soldiers. I miss being a part of a team,” he said about his life since retiring, something he wrote about recently in a LinkedIn essay.

"But I think people are a little like nations. Every once in a while you’re going to take one in the head, and you’re either going to feel sorry for yourself and go sit in the corner of the dugout and cry, or you’re going to get up and fix your problems.”

McChrystal has since focused his attention on launching The Franklin Project, to provide more opportunities for young adults to engage in a one-year national service commitment.

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