According to Acting Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Sloan Gibson, the number of veterans who potentially died as a result of long delays at VA facilities in Phoenix is more than twice as many as reported last month.
Of the approximately 1,700 veterans VA Inspector General Richard Griffin reported were in danger of being “lost or forgotten” within the department’s bureaucracy and systematic delays, 17 were said to have died as a result. Gibson recently appeared in Phoenix – the epicenter of the VA scandal – for the first time in his current capacity, where he announced another 18 veterans died after their names were scrubbed from waiting list records.
The alleged cover-up of such delays in treatment has been a major focus of the ongoing investigation, resulting in increased calls for former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki’s resignation. Gibson took over in an interim capacity after Shinseki stepped down last week.
Gibson promised to find out if the latest list of deaths could be related to delays in treatment. If so, he explained, he promised to take action.
“I will come personally and apologize to the survivors,” he said.
In any case, the lengthy delays have resulted in serious criticism of the Phoenix VA, and the department in general. Griffin’s report concluded the city’s veterans waited an average of 115 days for treatment, which is five times longer than the timeline reported by the VA.
As an investigation into the department continues, a number of legislators are working on developing a program that would allow veterans to obtain medical treatment from non-VA providers. Sens. Bernie Sanders and John McCain recently backed a bill that would give veterans forced to wait more than 30 days for a VA appointment – or who live 40 or more miles from a facility – the option to visit any government healthcare provider.
Though the highly criticized trade of five dangerous terrorists for a suspected Army deserter has attracted more news coverage this week, Gibson’s announcement proves the VA scandal deserves continued scrutiny from investigators and the media.
If #Bergdahl is a traitor then hopefully he’ll be condemned to receive medical care at Obama’s union controlled VA. It’s a death sentence.
— Progressives Today (@ProgsToday) June 6, 2014
Photo Credit: YouTube/Newsloop Health
This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom