WASHINGTON (AP) — Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald says he regrets remarks he made comparing long wait times at VA health care sites to waiting in line at a Disney amusement park.

In a statement, McDonald said: "It was never my intention to suggest that I don't take our mission of serving veterans very seriously." He went on to say: "If my comments Monday led any veterans to believe that I, or the dedicated workforce I am privileged to lead, don't take that noble mission seriously, I deeply regret that. Nothing could be further from the truth."

McDonald's statement came after a Republican senator called for his resignation and GOP lawmakers and veterans' service groups slammed his remarks as insulting and inappropriate.

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McDonald said at a breakfast Monday that the VA should not use wait times as a measure of success, comparing waits for VA health care to the hours people wait for rides at Disney theme parks. McDonald said a veterans' health-care experience was more important than the time spend waiting for an appointment.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.