American Legion Calls for Resignations of Top Officials at Veterans Affairs

Matt Vespa
By Matt Vespa | May 5, 2014 | 5:17 PM EDT

Last week, told the horrible story of forty veterans who, reportedly, died while waiting for health care.  As a result of the tragedy, President Obama called for an investigation.   The news outraged Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas, who said, "This is intentional misconduct - putting our nation's veterans on secret lists where they die."

Today, American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger called for the resignations of three top officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs: Secretary Eric Shinseki, Under Secretary of Health Robert Petzel and Under Secretary of Benefits Allison Hickey.

"These disturbing reports are part of what appear to be a pattern of scandals that has infected the entire system," said Dellinger, noting issues that have come up in Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Augusta, Ga. "Those problems need addressed at the highest level - starting with new leadership. The existing leadership has exhibited a pattern of bureaucratic incompetence and failed leadership that has been amplified in recent weeks."

Dellinger said that the failure to disclose safety information or to cover up mistakes is unforgivable - as is fostering a culture of nondisclosure. "VA leadership has demonstrated its incompetence through preventable deaths of veterans, long wait times for medical care, a benefits claims backlog numbering in excess of 596,000, and the awarding of bonuses to senior executives who have overseen such operations," he said. "Some veterans have waited years to have their claims decided. That same leadership has failed to provide answers to why these issues continue to occur."

Additionally, USA Today reported yesterday that one VA outpatient clinic in Colorado falsified appointment records.

Clerks at the Department of Veterans Affairs clinic in Fort Collins were instructed last year how to falsify appointment records so it appeared the small staff of doctors was seeing patients within the agency's goal of 14 days, according to the investigation.

A copy of the findings by the VA's Office of Medical Inspector was provided to USA TODAY.

Many of the 6,300 veterans treated at the outpatient clinic waited months to be seen. If the clerical staff allowed records to reflect that veterans waited longer than 14 days, they were punished by being placed on a "bad boy list," the report shows.

"Employees reported that scheduling was 'fixed,'" the findings say.