By CHUCK ROSS
When President Obama visits Phoenix on Thursday to speak about the benefits of home ownership, he’ll be less than a mile away from the place where a major scandal began last year: the Phoenix VA hospital.
Since he will be close by, one veterans advocacy group believes Obama should visit the facility to show that he is committed to fixing the flawed VA system.
“If President Obama wanted to get the ground truth — and send a signal of strong leadership — he would take the time to visit the Phoenix VA hospital during his forthcoming trip to that neighborhood,” Pete Hegseth, the CEO of Concerned Veterans for American, said in a statement.
The Phoenix VA served as the flashpoint for the scandal, which led to the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and the eventual firing of Sharon Helman, the director of the Phoenix facility. (RELATED: Phoenix VA Executive Booted For Beyonce Tickets)
With hospital administrators’ knowledge, Phoenix VA staffers were failing to provide care to veterans in the mandated time frame. As a work-around, the veterans were placed on secret waiting lists in order to mask the delays in care. Whistle-blowers alleged that more than 40 veterans on those secret lists died while waiting to receive care.
The Phoenix revelations exposed a system-wide pattern in which VA hospitals across the U.S. were employing similar tactics which delayed care to veterans.
While Obama hired on former Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald to right the ship and approved $16 billion in additional VA spending, “President Obama has not visited a single VA hospital to see firsthand how the VA is failing to serve our nation’s veterans,” Hegseth notes.
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