On Thursday, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman and U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan joined the mounting number of lawmakers, Republicans and Democrats, calling for the resignation of Eric Shinseki as the secretary for veteran affairs. Both cited the deception involving waiting times and the need for new leadership to move the department forward.

By Friday, the retired general had apologized and resigned. The critique sharpened in view of a 2012 assessment by the Government Accountability Office. It reiterated concerns that the veterans health system lacked reliable mechanisms for making appointments and charting waiting times. Department officials made pledges about repairs and upgrades. Yet, again, the effort lacked urgency. Too little has been accomplished.

Shinseki had his opportunity, and, to be fair, his tenure did bring improvements to the health system for veterans, including the introduction of electronic records and easing eligibility for Agent Orange victims. What shouldn’t be missed, either, is how deep the problems are.

They stem from two main sources, increased demand and a slow, aging bureaucracy. In 2001, the GAO warned about the harm from long wait times. Then, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq added hugely to those in need of care.

Now the White House and Congress, Democrats and Republicans, must join to deliver what practically everyone agrees veterans are owed, ready access to care long graded high in quality. That means more primary care doctors, greater cooperation with private facilities and a streamlined application process. It also involves a different brand of leadership, one that finally addresses problems many years in the making.