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Scandal Over Alleged VA ‘Waiting List’ Not Easing

Veterans Group Rallied In San Diego Thursday, Demanding Obama Hold VA Accountable

Photo by Tarryn Mento

The front of the San Diego VA Medical Center.

Problems continued to mount this week for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, including a call Thursday in San Diego by the leader of a national veterans group for more accountability by President Barack Obama of the VA.

The department came under scrutiny last month after a whistle-blower claimed that a VA hospital in Phoenix kept a secret list of veterans waiting for care to show the facility was meeting the 14-day standard for getting into treatment. As many as 40 veterans allegedly died before receiving care.

Here is a summary of what’s unfolded this week:

With Obama visiting La Jolla Thursday for a fundraiser, veterans rallied outside the War Memorial Building Auditorium in Balboa Park to demand more accountability of the VA, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Paul Rieckhoff, founder and chief executive of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said at the rally that Obama “needs to tell veterans what he’s doing to clean up” the Veterans Administration.

"He's yet to address the veterans. The president needs to assure them that he's taking action," Rieckhoff was quoted in the Times as saying.

In a story Thursday, U-T San Diego said no allegations of wrongdoing have been reported at the VA medical center in San Diego.

Jeffrey Gering, the medical center’s director, told the newspaper: “In my time at the VA San Diego Healthcare System, the organization has consistently maintained timely access for primary care, mental health and specialty care.”

Also on Thursday, the House Veterans Affairs Committee voted to subpoena records relating to the secret waiting list allegedly kept at the Phoenix VA hospital.

And the problems are not just in Phoenix. The Associated Press reported that the VA has acknowledged that 23 patients have died as a result of delayed care in recent years.

At a clinic in Fort Collins, Colo., officials were instructed to how to falsify appointment records, the VA’s inspector general said. Other problems have occurred in Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Augusta, Georgia, the AP said.

Several Republicans in Congress have called for Shinseki’s resignation, but House Speaker John Boehner said on Thursday he is not ready to “join the chorus of people calling on him to resign.”

Obama also has continued to back the retired four-star Army general who also is a former Army chief of staff.

The American Legion this week called on Shinseki to resign. The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, which rallied in Balboa Park, has not asked for his resignation but is polling members on its website to see if they want to take that step.

Meanwhile, Shinseki has been giving interviews this week to various news organizations. Here is NPR’s story based on its interview with him.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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