American Legion to call for removal of VA’s top leadership

The American Legion on Monday will call for a leadership shakeup at the  Veterans Affairs Department due to a series of issues involving the agency’s medical centers, the group announced.

The veterans organization said it is troubled by preventable deaths and long wait times at VA health clinics, as well as bonuses the department paid to senior executives who oversee those facilities.


Vietnam veteran Chuck Tharp, foreground, listens as Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), second from left, and Jeff Flake, left (R-Ariz.) finish up a news conference to discuss recent reports about the Phoenix VA hospital. (Ross D. Franklin/AP)

The call for action follows reports that a Phoenix VA hospital tried to cover up long delays in service for dozens of patients who died while waiting for care. Whistleblowers claim the clinic developed a “secret waiting list” to hide the treatment delays.

Legion national commander Daniel Dellinger plans to call for the removal of senior VA officials in Washington during a news conference on Monday, according to the announcement from the veterans group.

“As the country’s largest organization of wartime veterans, the American Legion believes that the VA is a system worth saving and that the department has reached a point of crisis nationwide that warrants the removal of VA’s top leadership in Washington,” the announcement says.

The VA has responded to the Phoenix allegations by placing three of its executives on administrative leave “until further notice.” The department’s inspector general is also investigating the claims.

“We believe it is important to allow an independent, objective review to proceed,” VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said in a statement last week. “These allegations, if true, are absolutely unacceptable, and if the Inspector General’s investigation substantiates these claims, swift and appropriate action will be taken.” 

The Legion will stream is Monday news conference live at 2 p.m.

Follow Josh Hicks on TwitterFacebook or Google+. Connect by e-mail at  josh.hicks(at)washpost.comVisit The Federal Eye, and The Fed Page for more federal news. Submit news tips and suggestions to federalworker@washpost.com.

Josh Hicks covers the federal government and anchors the Federal Eye blog. He reported for newspapers in the Detroit and Seattle suburbs before joining the Post as a contributor to Glenn Kessler’s Fact Checker blog in 2011.
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