VA preventable deaths 'will not be tolerated'

I write to you seriously troubled over what reportedly occurred at the VA Medical Center in Phoenix. It was reported that at least 40 veterans who had been placed on a “secret list” died waiting for long-delayed doctor appointments with the Phoenix VA.

This secret list – revealed by CNN – may have been a way for administrators to misrepresent the hospital’s performance about actual waiting times for patients. Also troubling is that CNN reported that the director of the Phoenix VA Health Care System knew of, and approved, the secret list, and received a $9,345 bonus last year, The Washington Times reported.

If true, these accusations are despicable. No one who served this country with honor should be left to die in such a way.

The American Legion wants answers and solutions. Among those solutions would be legislation, now in the U.S. House, that would allow the removal of senior VA employees for performance issues.

VA’s Inspector General is now conducting a full investigation, and I am dispatching an American Legion System Worth Saving Task Force team to Phoenix to assess the situation there and, most important, to get the story straight from veterans who use the hospital.

In addition to the families we see in Phoenix, we want to hear from anyone around the nation who has received care – or been denied care due to appointment delays – at any VA facility. To share your experience, please visit the following website:

As the nation’s largest organization of wartime veterans, The American Legion is committed to ensuring that each and every VA-eligible veteran receives high-quality health care in a timely fashion. And preventable deaths at facilities entrusted to provide that care will not be tolerated.