He's one of them — a disabled veteran who lost part of his right foot to a mine in Vietnam, a soldier who riled superiors by telling Congress the U.S. needed more troops in Iraq than Washington wanted.

That bond is why veterans groups overwhelmingly endorsed Eric Shinseki as Veterans Affairs secretary in 2009. And it's part of the reason many continued to support him until his resignation Friday in the firestorm surrounding lengthy waits for veterans to get care at VA hospitals and reports that employees tried to cover them up.

Shinseki, 71, served longer than any other VA secretary since 1989, when the agency became a cabinet-level department.

Support for Shinseki among vets was not universal. The American Legion led the call for his resignation.