Phoenix vets relay anger to McCain

Associated Press Published:

PHOENIX -- Several veterans voiced their anger and frustration to Sen. John McCain on Friday over what they call a broken Veterans Affairs system as the Republican said that reported lapses in care in Phoenix are part of a nationwide problem that needs to be fixed.

"Friends, this is not a unique situation as far as Arizona is concerned," said McCain. "I emphasize everyone is innocent until proven guilty but this appears to be a problem of nationwide implications."

The VA has been under fire in recent weeks, ever since critics contended that administrators in Phoenix kept an off-the-books list to conceal long wait times as 40 veterans died waiting to get an appointment. Similar problems have since been reported in other states.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki said this week he has ordered an audit of access to care at all VA medical centers.

The McCain event came as the Veterans of Foreign Wars announced that it has established a hot line to field calls about care at VA facilities around the country. "We just want to hear it ourselves and not through a filter" of media coverage, said Joe Davis, director of public affairs for the VFW. "We want to hear it from the veterans directly."

While several officials have called for Shinseki to resign, McCain did not.

"I would like to see Secretary Shinseki in his capacity appearing before Congress and the American people saying what went on," said McCain, a veteran himself who served in Vietnam.

The chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee has similar questions, and he announced a hearing next week on care across the VA. Shinseki will appear before the committee.

McCain said veterans should be allowed to pick other health care providers outside the VA, but says the system is still relevant.

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  • Excerpt from: www.cnn.com 5-9-2014

    "VA takes any allegations about patient care or employee misconduct very seriously," Shinseki said. "If true, the behavior outlined in the email is unacceptable."

    Rep. Jeff Miller, chairman of House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, which subpoenaed Shinseki to testify next week, said in a statement that "the VA's reaction to the latest development in its delays in care scandal is faux outrage at its finest."

    "Since last year, VA officials have known about intentional efforts to falsify patient wait time data at the Fort Collins, Colo., Community-Based Outpatient Clinic, which is part of the Cheyenne VA Medical Center," Miller said in the statement. "In fact, according to a Dec. 2013 VA Office of Medical Inspector report, clerks at the Fort Collins clinic were actually taught how to cook the books. Yet until today, department officials had not taken any steps whatsoever to discipline any employees or request an independent investigation -- nor did they plan to do so."

    Miller said Shinseki's actions Friday appear "to be more of a knee-jerk reaction to tough media questions than anything else. If this is what it takes for VA leaders to do the right thing, you can't help but question how they operate when they think no one is paying attention."

    The latest allegation comes as the federal department defends itself against claims of potentially deadly delays at other facilities throughout the nation, including claims of a secret wait list in Phoenix, which was first reported by CNN..................

    Another Phony Scandal brought to you by the Obama Administration...We are going to Fundamentally Transform America..

    Secretary Shinseki has to GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!